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Blade Vendor War Looms On Horizon

Get ready for the blade wars. This small but fast-growing segment of the server market appears to be ready to pop as vendors release streamlined designs that are better positioned as rack-mount replacements, and in some cases, offer pricing attractive enough to draw new customers to the model.

Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard last week talked up new blade offerings and promised they will be powerful and price-competitive with current rackmount offerings.

HP, which unveiled its c-Class blade infrastructure on June 14, for example, is providing—among the initial offerings for the platform—a blade replacement for the DL480 dual-socket ProLiant rackmount, its most popular server model.

"It's huge," said Shahin Pirooz, CTO and vice president of professional services at CenterBeam, San Jose, Calif. With the c-Class' centralized networking and power capabilities, consolidating the ProLiants into a blade infrastructure gives customers more flexible bandwidth options and makes more economical use of power, he said.

At HP's c-Class product launch, Ann Livermore, executive vice president, Technology Solutions Group at HP, Palo Alto, Calif., declared HP's goal to "blade everything." Intel-based x86 CPUs will be available in July, while Opteron, Itanium and storage blades will be available in the second half of this year, HP executives said.

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