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IBM Adds 'Shared Storage' to SMB BladeCenter

When IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) first introduced its BladeCenter in 2002, the systems came closer to defining (and justifying) a "business-in-a-box" appellation than any other blade product. Why? Because right off the bat, IBM offered a wider range of server, networking, and storage options for its blade solutions than did any other blade vendor. The company's leadership in blade flexibility and customer choice continues to this day, helped along in large part by IBM's 2006 decision to help form and support the collaborative community.

Just over a year ago, IBM launched BladeCenter S, a solution that aimed to take the platform's technologies and value proposition down-market to SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) and to larger companies' branch office locations. But BC S was not just a downsized version of its larger siblings. Instead, it was designed to deliver BladeCenter-class performance without making life miserable for users and office workers.

For example, BC S solutions can be wired for common 110V power outlets, meaning that systems can be deployed just about anywhere. BC S cooling leverages remarkably quiet and efficient fans. Most importantly, BC S incorporates all server, networking, and storage components in a single, compact, highly integrated enclosure. Some competing SMB-focused blade solutions are much louder and generate significantly more system clutter.

Now the company is adding shared storage to BC S. IBMs belated birthday present to BC S customers may not seem like a big deal to some small businesses. After all, what the heck will they do with a SAN? But if those companies are looking to make their IT systems as efficient and cost effective as possible, integrated shared storage is a handy tool to help achieve those ends. IBM's new SAS-based SAN can allow companies to deploy and consolidate applications that leverage stored common resources (think databases and similar business assets) onto BC S enclosures. In addition, the new systems fully support sophisticated functionalities such as VMware ESX (including VMotion) and Microsoft's Clustering Services (MSCS).

Though shared storage is the biggest news in this announcement, the ease-of-use features are nothing to sneeze at. Easing the BC S set-up process with the Start Now Advisor will be welcomed by both SMBs and enterprises with hundreds of branch stores and offices. In addition, the new BladeCenter Service Advisor should help smaller organizations enjoy levels of service typically enjoyed by larger companies.

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