HP Hooks RLX

HP grabs blade software specialist, plans to integrate its products with OpenView

October 4, 2005

3 Min Read
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Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) has bought blade server startup RLX Technologies for an undisclosed fee as part of its long-term strategy to link server and storage blades (see HP Acquires RLX ).

RLX, which is based in Spring, Texas, started life back in 1999 developing both blade hardware and management software, although the company shifted its focus entirely to the latter in 2004. The startups flagship offering, Control Tower, is a Linux-based product for monitoring and provisioning blades.

Linux, long touted as a cost-effective and secure alternative to proprietary software, is a logical fit for high-density, low-footprint blade servers, and HP is one of a number of vendors looking to combine the two technologies. The vendor, for example, recently signed a deal with Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT) to boost its presence in this space. (See Red Hat, HP Offer Blade Bundle.)

The RLX acquisition is also part of a broader HP strategy to link servers and storage. HP already offers management software within its BladeSystem architecture for handling blades, although the company is planning to integrate this with Control Tower over the next six months. Ultimately, Control Tower will become part of the HP management software portfolio and a key element of its blade push.

"It will become the primary control point for our blade adapter strategy," says Paul Miller, VP of marketing for HP's industry standard server group. He says users will eventually see storage blades running in the same chassis as traditional server and networking blades.Control Tower will also be integrated with both HP's OpenView product line and its Systems Insight Manager software. Indeed, HP is hellbent on offering tightly coupled management across a range of different data center devices, recently flashing its cash for storage management specialists AppIQ Inc. and Peregrine Systems Inc. (OTC: PRGN.PK). Peregrine’s price was $425 million, and the AppIQ deal was said to be worth more than $200 million (see HP Chomps AppIQ & Peregrine).

HP's vision of bladed bliss is not unique. (See IDC Sees Growth in Linux, Blade Servers.) Last year, for example, archrival IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) launched a Linux/blade server combo specifically aimed at small to medium-sized businesses. (See IBM Intros SMB BladeCenter.)

But, despite the growing popularity of both Linux and blade servers, there are still some major hurdles in the path of IT managers. The hassle of migration, particularly shifting applications from Windows to Linux, looms large for many IT directors. (See HP Dons Red Hat and Turbine's a Fan of Blades.)

Post merger, Miller says, jobs will be safe amongst the startup’s 36 employees. "They are all going to be offered postions within HP," he says. "Our intent is to keep them as a team and keep them in their current facility."

Scott Farrand, RLX's vice president of systems engineering, will be joining HP, although Doug Erwin, the startup's CEO, and Kevin Klausmeyer, its CFO, will not be coming over, according to Miller. The exec would not reveal the reason for this, noting only that "they are going off to do the next big thing." RLX did not return NDCF's call today.Miller adds that HP will continue to support RLX’s 200-strong customer base through the life of their existing warranty and support agreements.

The market was less than overwhelmed by the news. Shares of HP dropped 19 cents (0.65 percent) to $29.01 today.

The acquisition is expected to complete within the next 30 days.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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