Intel, Veritas Bring on the Blades

Intel's brand-new blade servers will bundle Veritas's server provisioning software

September 18, 2003

4 Min Read
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In a move that promises to catapult Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) securely into the server provisioning space, the company has landed a deal to license its OpForce software to provision Intel Corp.s (Nasdaq: INTC) new Enterprise Blade Servers (see Veritas Provisions Intel Blade Servers).

Intel announced its new Enterprise Blade Server family today, saying it will start taking OEM orders for the first product in the series, the Intel Server Compute Blade SBXL52, this week (see Intel Intros Blade Servers). The SBXL52 provides two Intel Xeon processors per blade, with a total of 14 blades per chassis, and is managed by both the Intel Management Module and Veritas’s OpForce software, Intel says. Each chassis costs $2,800.

In the future, the chip Goliath is planning to wrap OpForce into every single one of its new blades, according to Patrick Buddenbaum, the product manager for Intel’s Enterprise Platform Division.

While Veritas has been angling to get into server provisioning since it acquired server provisioning startup Jareva Technologies late last year, this is the company’s first big break into the new space (see Veritas Moves up the Stack).

“This is a big design win for us,” says Troy Toman, Veritas’s senior director of product marketing for utility computing. “With Intel’s decision to bundle us as part of their blade server family, they’ve recognized the value of server provisioning.”Veritas has reason to be excited. In addition to being a validation of its efforts to enter the server provisioning space, the Intel deal promises to lay a rapidly expanding market at the company’s feet. According to a recent IDC report, worldwide blade server sales will be a booming $6 billion market by 2007. The analyst firm also expects that 35 percent of all servers shipped in the U.S. by 2007 will be in blade form.

Now Veritas has a good chance at grabbing a chunk of that market, according to The Clipper Group Inc. analyst Mike Fisch. “Intel's plans to ship Veritas OpForce with its blade servers is a pretty big proof point that Veritas is breaking into server provisioning,” he writes in an email. “I think it has the will and wherewithal to break through.”

And as Veritas wiggles its OpForce toes in Intel’s gigantic footprint, the company hopes some of the new customers it stumbles across may be interested in using the software on other platforms as well. “We expect that there will be some customers that will get their first experience with OpForce on the Intel platform and want to expand that onto other platforms,” says Toman. The company also wouldn’t object if some customers decide to integrate OpForce with other Veritas software offerings, like its clustering, replication, and volume management products.

The deal, which, according to Toman, has been in the works since even before Veritas integrated OpForce into its portfolio, will also help the company move ahead with its so-called “utility computing” strategy. With this strategy, Veritas aims to help companies to maximize their resource utilization, and to deliver IT services in a measurable and flexible way. “This is the server provisioning side of utility computing,” Toman says.

Meanwhile, Intel’s surge into the blade server market also moves today’s complex and crowded data centers one step closer to consolidation. While traditional server farms can be difficult to scale and are often complex and expensive to manage, blade server technology allows companies to stack independent servers within a single rack or enclosure. Each blade is an independent system with its own memory, processor, and network connection.“Blades lend themselves to a much more manageable setup,” Intel’s Buddenbaum says. “You can start integrating the networking capabilities with the compute capabilities. [They’re] breaking down the silos where you have duplicate efforts going on... And they offer quicker redeployment. You can swap out a compute or a networking blade in seconds.”

From a storage perspective, blade servers can also make life a lot easier, Buddenbaum says. “This blade platform would want to be deployed in enterprise systems,” he says. “There are certainly many customers that would want to connect their server to their SAN.”

In fact, Intel has partnered with QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) to simplify the Fibre Channel connectivity to the new blade servers. QLogic announced today that both its SANbox switches and its SANblade software are interoperable with the blades (see QLogic Works With Intel Blades).

Each Intel blade server supports two Fibre Channel switch modules, thus eliminating the need for a separate Fibre Channel infrastructure. In addition, Intel is offering a Fibre Channel Expansion Card that integrates onto the Intel Server Compute Blade and connects directly with the Fibre Channel switch. According to QLogic, this removes as many as 28 cables from the equation, creating a cable-less configuration.

Intel is offering an unbranded QLogic switch as part of its new blade server package for an additional $9,800.— Eugénie Larson, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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