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HP Goes Midsize With New Blade Server And Storage

Products take account of fact that while midmarket customers face the same issues as enterprises, they may have smaller IT staff.

Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday expanded its server and storage lines with offerings targeting smaller customers, including a new, small version of its BladeSystem server blade technology and a blade version of its entry-level storage array.

The company unveiled "Shorty," a compact HP BladeSystem c3000 server blade chassis aimed at smaller customers' primary data centers, or at the remote and branch offices of midrange and smaller enterprise clients, said Deb Nelson, senior vice president of marketing and alliances for HP's Technology Solutions Group.

The new "Shorty" runs all current HP BladeSystem c-Class server blades. It can fit up to eight blades in its 10.5-inch-high enclosure, and plugs into any standard 110-volt outlet, Nelson said.

It comes to market shortly after IBM in June unveiled its BladeCenter S server blade enclosure for small businesses. The BladeCenter S plugs into a 110-volt socket, and has room for up to six server blades. It started shipping last month.

HP also unveiled the first blade implementation of its All-In-One storage appliance. The All-In-One, or AiO family of appliances, first started shipping a year ago as a sub-$5,000 combination NAS/iSCSI SAN storage array for small businesses.

The new HP StorageWorks All-in-One SB600c storage blade installs in any HP BladeSystem c-Class server blade enclosure, including the c3000. Nelson said that while midmarket customers face the same issues as enterprises, they typically have smaller IT staff consisting of generalists, and not specialists.

"What they don't want is for a vendor to take a couple of enterprise products and cut them down for the midmarket," she said. "IBM recently announced a new midmarket server solution, and said it is not specific to the midmarket. HP builds products specific to the midmarket."

That is why Dave Butler, president of Enterprise Computing Solutions, a Million Viejo, Calif.-based HP solution provider, is thrilled about the vendor's new midmarket products.

The c3000 and the SB600c address not only midmarket customers' computing requirements, they also do so in a way that lets solution providers bring their services to those customers who otherwise lack the skill to implement the technology, Butler said.

"Blades are not a plug-and-play product," Butler said. "They require strategies to put them in place. I am not thrilled about bringing a lower-cost product to market. Now I gotta go out and sell more to get the same hardware revenue. But look at the opportunities for us with services. If I am a services-led partner, I can tell our customer, now we have developed your strategy. Then we can sell the smaller blade servers and wraps hundreds of thousands of dollars of services around them."

It is a strategy that works for Butler. "HP has made it clear that they are targeting the mid-tier space, and they are not going direct," he said. "In the past year, our revenue has jumped 30 percent while out profit has doubled. HP is working with me on this."

HP on Wednesday also unveiled a series of Solution Blocks, which are configurations of its storage, server, and software products specifically tuned for specific applications from vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle, J.D. Edwards, and so on, Nelson said. The new blocks include configurations based on the new c3000 server blade enclosure.

The company also introduced new financing options for purchase or lease of the c3000.

The c3000 and the SB600c are currently available. The c3000 enclosure is list priced starting at $4,299, while the SB600c has a starting list price of $9,968.

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