IBM Rips HP Blade Server, Touts Its Own

In a conference with solution providers, IBM executives provided a side-by-side comparison of the IBM BladeCenter S against the HP c3000 blade configuration, working to show IBM technology as more elegant, easier to deploy and at half the cost.

"With (IBM's) Open Fabric Manager, integrated storage, and shared serial attached SCSI, you get more capability, more value for your customers at a significantly lower price," said Alex Yost, vice president of BladeCenter for IBM. His remarks were made at a session before more than 100 solution providers attending the CMP Channel XChange Tech Innovators 2007 conference in Miami.

After fully configuring each server and demonstrating both the IBM BladeCenter S and the HP c3000 blade solution, Yost said IBM's total cost totaled $51,262 for the same functionality at better performance than the HP, which he said totaled $106,142.

"I thought it was a strong demonstration," said David Klein, CEO of Instant Infosystems, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based solution provider who doesn't resell either IBM or HP blade solutions at the moment. He said he's now considering IBM's. In particular, he said, because of the price of the configuration and the performance IBM displayed, he believed the BladeCenter S could be deployed in customer locations for email archiving and similar tasks.

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IBM has been fighting against a market that, compared with HP, has shown tepid support for its BladeCenter product line. For example, after each company's most recent financial quarter, IBM executives told Wall Street analysts its blade lineup was growing at 15 percent. HP executives said their blade lineup was growing at 81 percent " and depicted it as a standout in the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's vast hardware product line.

The demonstration in Miami could be the first step of a new, aggressive strategy to take shots at competitors and attempt to win business in the channel in the process. Many channel partners have complained over the past few months that IBM has taken its eye off the ball with solution providers and lacked the focus and attention to their needs that rivals, including HP, have provided. Initial response Tuesday was positive.

"I liked what I saw," said Micheal Sheller, president of McShelle National, a Rockville, Maryland-based solution provider and IBM partner. "I could take this to customers."