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Blade Servers For The Rest Of Us

The battle between IBM and Hewlett-Packard for the blade server market is shifting to the chassis as IBM's largest enterprise distributor is rolling out a plan to offer free BladeCenter chassis to help solution providers attract new SMB blade customers.

Fred Cuen, president of Avnet Solution Partners, IBM Americas, San Antonio, said the distributor has put together a plan to enable 50 BladeCenter solution providers to go after new SMB blade accounts as part of what he calls "first in enterprise" opportunities.

"We are helping them with the seeding of the chassis," Cuen said. "We will provide them with training and development along with the first enterprise chassis to allow them to accelerate their opportunities and ours in blades."

Ron Venzin, vice president of Paradigm Integrated Services, an IBM Business Partner in Phoenix, said the Avnet program could yield a windfall for IBM blade sales. "Customers may only need four or five blade servers initially, and they'll look at the $3,000 cost of the BladeCenter and say [the blade solution] is too expensive," he said.

But if he can offer the BladeCenter for free, it changes the game. "I've talked to four or five customers in the past week who were initially reluctant, but who are now suddenly interested," Venzin said. "I'll probably close every deal."

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