VC Firm Pledges $100M Investment In IBM's Blade Ecosystem

Walden announced the pledge with IBM executives at the IBM Innovation Forum in Tokyo. The companies said 50 percent of the investment will be focused in Asian markets.

IBM's is an industry group focused on developing blade solutions based on IBM's and Intel's open BladeCenter specification. Members include Advanced Micro Devices, Avnet, Novell, Nortel and Symantec, among others.

To date, Walden said it has invested in nearly a dozen component and solution developers in the blade market and plans to double its portfolios in the blade industry over the next two to five years. Some examples include members Clovis Solutions and Teak Technologies.

"I'm a big believer in the future of the datacenter built on blades. Blades are solving fundamental problems in the datacenter, such as power and cooling issues, space restrictions and provide an excellent platform for virtualization," Lip-Bu Tan, founder and chairman of Walden, said in a statement. "IBM has taken a leadership role in the market with their forward-thinking design approach and collaborative approach to accelerate the market through an ecosystem of partners developing components and solutions for customers."

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IBM also announced today 17 new members to the organization, including Lenovo, Symbol Technology, Synnex, Bell Micro, Silverback Systems and Wal-Mart.

In addition, IBM said it will unveil a 10Gbit Ethernet switch for high bandwidth blade applications on Monday. It will be available in later this month at prices starting at $4,999.

Also on Monday, IBM is set to disclose that it has implemented the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) in conjunction with BladeCenter and will embed it in the IBM BladeCenter Advanced Management Module in the second half of 2006. SMASH is a cross-platform management protocol that allows customers to create a management standard across the data center, according to IBM. The autonomic management module manages blades at the chassis level, automating blade management functions previously done manually, and integrates with IBM Director and Tivoli systems level management tools, IBM said. The management module, which ships for free along with the BladeCenter H chassis, is based on open standards.

IBM also plans to release a software development kit for BladeCenter, allowing third party vendors to customize offering on BladeCenter's open standards.

Blades, which are heating up as businesses work to pack more power into existing data center spaces, are the fastest growing server category worldwide, according to analysts.

The blade server market in the first quarter grew 29.5 percent year over year in shipments and 43.4 percent year over year in revenue, according to IDC. The research firm has projected the global blade market will grow to $10 billion by 2010.

IBM rival Hewlett-Packard is slated to announced new modular blade servers next week and Sun also has a server announcement on tap, and it is widely believed to be multiprocessor blades.

According to IDC, IBM currently is the market leader in blades with 40.1 percent market share. HP takes the second slot with 35.6 percent and Dell comes in at No. 3 with 11.1 percent share, based on revenue.