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Smaller Businesses Embrace Blade Servers

The blade server wars are heating up, and this time the battlefield is the small and mid-sized businesses, whose specific needs and volume potential have led market leaders Hewlett-Packard and IBM to tailor specific new platforms to meet their requirements.

IBM since June has been touting its BladeCenter S platform, which has a Dec. 18 roll-out scheduled and is targeted specifically at SMBs. Hewlett-Packard last month introduced a new blade server chassis dubbed "Shorty" that the company claims will provide mid-size companies with an "easy-to-configure data center in box."

The efforts to provide mid-size businesses with tailored blade platforms represent something of a "catch-up" effort for IBM and HP, which both were caught by surprised at the high level of server blades into data centers of medium-sized businesses, said Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, in an interview.

Blades were initially designed for large enterprise and service provider-level installations, where the higher densities enabled by the installations were a top priority, he said. But smaller businesses also turned to server blades for the benefits of the associated platform ecosystems, which provide a single cabinet for consolidation of servers, cables, and simplified monitoring and management.

"With the mid-sized businesses it really is more about integration than density," Haff said. "Blades are started to prove very popular with the mid-market because of their compactness, and now the vendors are bringing out these specialty SMB configurations in hopes that blades will be even more rapidly adopted."

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