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Sharpshooter: HP Unveils SMB Blade Program

The battle between Hewlett-Packard and IBM to grab blade server market share in small and midsize businesses is expected to escalate this week when HP launches an SMB blade initiative.

Called Blades for Business, the SMB blade battle plan includes a simplified and lower-cost HP BladeSystem enclosure as well as packaged HP services designed to speed blade implementation in new accounts. The program, which is slated to be unveiled Monday and kick off May 2, comes just one week after the IBM unit of distributor Avnet Partner Solutions revealed a plan to offer free IBM BladeCenter chassis to solution providers as an inducement for their small-business customers to adopt blade technology.

"At this point, we are not looking at that type of program," said Vince Gayman, director of worldwide SMB programs at HP, Palo Alto, Calif. "What we have done is try to reduce the complexity of blades and bring the pricing to the point where blades are a good fit for a customer who is adding or replacing [at least] five servers a year."

Rich Tear, CEO of CSCI, an HP solution provider in San Diego, said the Blades for Business program could provide new points of discussion to convince his customers to adopt blades. "When you go into the back office of these companies that have grown from 150 to 200 to 250 employees, you know it's a mess and they know it's a mess, but they don't know what to do about it," he said.

The lower-cost chassis should help overcome some of "the sticker shock of pricing," he added.

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