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Sun Glints Off Blades

Sun, which was the butt of jokes during HP's launch of its ambitious blade server strategy earlier this week, is quietly plotting its return to the enterprise blade market. (See HP Brandishes Blades.) And it looks like competitive pricing and interoperability will be its key weapons against blade leaders IBM and HP.

After withdrawing its B1600 blade family from the market last year, the vender has seen its rivals unveil a slew of blade-related products, partners, and customers, as blades gain momentum amongst users. (See HP Intros Better Blade Mgt, IBM Goes for SMB Blades, Mellanox, Voltaire Power HP, IBM Forms Blade Community, and IBM, Walden Collaborate.)

IBM, for its part, took the wraps off a new 10-Gbit/s switch for its BladeCenter platform earlier this week in a clear attempt to tap into users' next-generation server and storage infrastructures. (See IBM Flashes 10-Gig Switch Blade and Future SANs Stir Debate.)

Mike McNerney, Sun's director of blade marketing, would not reveal too many specifics of the new blade server, although he hinted that Sun will leverage lower prices to claw market share from blade leaders HP and IBM. "The benefits of blades are held back by a number of constraints and one of them is price," he says. "It has to be competitive, not just with blade servers, but with the entire server market."

Many users, adds McNerney, currently get more performance and flexibility out of their rack-mount servers than they would from a blade. "Until we address these issues, this will remain a niche market."

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