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IBM Delivers Blade Servers For Retail Stores

As more businesses look to blade servers to reduce server sprawl and improve manageability, IBM, the leading provider of blades, is now targeting vertical markets with specific offerings. On Monday the company introduced a platform for use in retail stores.

"We've had very strong success with blades in the retail data centers, and now they are looking to extend this architecture to their stores," says Juhi Jotwani, director of solutions and alliances for IBM's xSeries and BladeCenter divisions. "We want to marry the success of BladeCenter in the data center with the key pressures a CIO of a retailer is facing to lower cost and increase customer service."

The Systems Solution for Retail Stores is based on IBM's BladeCenter, and can be combined with the IBM Store Integration Framework, a software package that uses IBM middleware developed specifically for use in retail stores. Also being offered are point-of-sale applications from third-party vendors for use on the platform, and an integrated wireless switch from Symbol Technologies intended to provide better wireless availability, security, and management.

IBM also believes the platform will help in the deployment of advanced video surveillance equipment in retail stores. Up to 48 cameras can be managed on a single server blade that is combined with a video compression and analysis card, Jotwani says.

IBM says more than 100 larger retailers have deployed BladeCenter in their data centers, and the servers also are currently being used in about 1,200 retail stores. Jotwani estimates a store implementation with blade, chassis, and switches can be installed for between $15,000 and $25,000. IBM plans to introduce a less expensive solution based on its xSeries servers later this year for small and medium-sized retail operations.

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