IBM's and Hewlett-Packard's blade-server sales are skyrocketing, but solution providers say IBM's BladeCenter integration strategy may give it a leg up in winning the hearts and minds of the channel.
Research firm IDC reported that the combined worldwide blade-server sales of the two vendors were up almost 280 percent during the first quarter, compared with first quarter of 2003.
"We're probably selling more IBM [blades] than HP blades," said Don McDowell, vice president of server solutions at Forsythe Solutions, a VAR based in Skokie, Ill. "[HP and IBM] have two different strategies. HP has concentrated on density and power in the blade while IBM concentrates on what it looks like," he said.
IBM has invested a lot of money in the backplane and has recruited other vendors, including Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks, to create blades for the BladeCenter, he added.
"When you look at an IBM BladeCenter installation, you don't see any cables and you don't have to worry about all the interconnect stuff because it is already done," McDowell said.
But Sally Stevens, HP's director of ProLiant platform marketing, said, "If you look at what's coming out of the rack, we have less power cords than what you see with an IBM solution. And with our [HP ProLiant BL30P] product, we are best in class in density."
IBM Business Partners reported last month that their blade-server sales were up dramatically (CRN, May 24). For example, Kirk Zaranti, executive vice president of Solution Technology, an IBM Business Partner in Indianapolis, said his company sold 450 IBM blades last year, compared with zero the year before.
Stevens said early blade adopters were large enterprise accounts that purchased products directly from HP. There is a "huge opportunity for the channel" as corporate accounts begin to adopt the technology, she added.
In addition, HP has doubled its blade rebates to the channel to 4 percent from 2 percent on all blades sold through Oct. 31.