HP Boosts Blade PCs

Says they can slash the cost of traditional enterprise computing

April 27, 2004

2 Min Read
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It seems that small really is beautiful these days. Not content to offer just blade servers, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) has unveiled a new data center solution based on blade PCs, which it says can slash the cost of traditional enterprise computing (see IBM's BladeServer Blitz and HP Intros Blade PCs).

The HP Blade PC bc1000 is now being offered as part of HPs Consolidated Client Infrastructure (CCI) strategy, which centralizes customers’ desktop and storage resources into data centers. Like traditional blade servers, which provide high-density computing in tight spaces, the bc1000 blade PCs are rackmounted in the data center and typically linked to a networked storage infrastructure. They are accessed through a thin-client device, such as the HP Compaq Thin Client.

In some ways, this is a new spin on utility computing -- a dynamic allocation engine inside the data center stack assigns the next available blade to users as they log on, as well as automatically reassigning users if a blade fails.

But the biggest benefits will be felt in corporate IT budgets, if HP’s marketing spiel is correct. In a statement, the Palo Alto, Calif., firm says CCI can save up to $1,200 in support costs per user per year, compared to a traditional desktop PC.

Should we believe the hype?Well, it seems that, like the blade server, the blade PC could become something of a fixture in the data center. Although he was unable to provide any specific figures, Roger Kay, vice president of client computing at analyst firm IDC believes that users could save money. He says, “I think that the concept is correct; there are some savings. HP has created a price point that is attractive enough by putting less expensive parts on the blade -- for example, by using a Transmeta [processor] rather than Intel.”

This is the first time that one of the major vendors has put its weight fully behind blade PC technology. But it’s not just HP that is interested. Earlier this year, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) signed an agreement to distribute PC blade specialist ClearCube Technology Inc.'s solutions in Japan.

But the technology is not for everyone. Cheap blade PCs could work well in certain data-intensive environments, such as finance, the medical profession, and government, but ITers in some staid corporate environments may need a bit of convincing. “There are a few shops that are very orthodox," says IDC's Kay, "and they won’t go for it.”

HP was unavailable for comment on this article.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum0

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