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IBM Sharpens SMB Blades

IBM today unveiled a set of new blade technologies and services aimed at the networking, storage, and systems management needs of SMBs. (See IBM Goes for SMB Blades.)

Initially, telecom firms, large enterprises, and high performance computing sites were the early adopters of blade servers, thanks largely to the cost and complexity of deploying the technology. (See Blades for Buffalo , IBM's BladeServer Blitz, and Benchmark Energy Products.)

Now that's changing. "A lot of SMBs have very limited resources in the IT department," says Randall Vogsland, infrastructure supervisor at Bowman and Brooke, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based law firm. "For organizations like that, it could be a daunting process to deploy blades."

Ishan Sehgal, program director of IBM's BladeCenter division, admits that complexity is an issue when it comes to blade deployments: "Even some enterprises struggle with the fact that the server administrator may not be familiar with the networking aspects [of blade servers]."

To address the situation, IBM has launched a low-cost stripped-down networking switch that fits into the vendor's BladeCenter chassis. Unlike higher-end switches, the Server Connectivity Module, as it is called, uses a graphical user interface and a color-coded system to help IT staff configure the likes of virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs). This, according to Sehgal, removes the need for administrators to know the vagaries of specific switch operating systems.

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