HP Hits Back On IBM Server Claims, Says Rival Is Panicking

Hewlett-Packard hit back Wednesday at claims by IBM that IBM's forthcoming new blade solution is less expensive and easier to deploy than HP's, by saying IBM's comparison was intentionally deceptive, incorrect and shows the signs of a panicked company.

"We're looking forward to seeing their hardware down the road when they do ship, and doing an apples-to-apples comparison," said Barry Sinclair, HP's product manager for the HP c3000 blade server that would ostensibly compete with IBM's future IBM BladeCenter S system. "I think IBM is really panicking. They are doing what they are doing to freeze the market. My suspicion is a lot of the comparisons they showed you were invalid."

Alex Yost, vice president of IBM's BladeCenter product line, offered a demonstration of an IBM BladeCenter S configured against an HP c3000 during an appearance Tuesday at the CMP Channel XChange Tech Innovator conference in Miami. The BladeCenter S is scheduled to ship to market in mid-December.

Yost presented an IBM server that ran quietly, without any rats nests of wires, and at what he said was a full configuration against an HP c3000, which he also said was fully configured but which was depicted with several rats nests of wires, hummed loudly, and which Yost said was more expensive than IBM's future server. Sinclair provided his own comparison -- based on information published publicly by both IBM and HP -- which told a much different story.

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According to HP, similar configurations of the competing servers provide a cost of $22,496 for the HP c3000 and $33,070 for the BladeCenter S. IBM's configuration looks at a version of each server with a much higher-end configuration. According to IBM, a fully spec'd HP c3000 comes to $106,262, while an IBM Blade Center S, fully spec'd, comes to $51,610.

You can view HP's configuration and specs here.

You can view IBM's configuration and specs here. IBM has also posted a video demonstration of its comparison here.

"In my mind, they have a very expensive solution compared to ours," HP's Sinclair said.

Speaking to IBM's demonstration showing an HP c3000 as noisy and complex, with wires running all over the place, Sinclair said HP has been able to configure a solution with as few as two wires and under 55 decibals of noise.

HP has been trouncing IBM in the market of late. In the most recent quarter, IBM told financial analysts its blade business showed 15 percent growth. In its most recent quarter, HP said its blade sales grew at an 81-percent clip.

In an email, IBM defended its comparison. "The comparison that we showed in the presentation was looking at a customer scenario that included a complete solution of servers, storage, backup, networking software. We kept it apples-to-apples and had a (business partner) confirm that it was a valid solution," IBM said.

Gary Thome, HP's director of BladeSystem Strategy and Architecture, responded to IBM's comparison on his corporate blog.

"IBM states that customers don't want 'watered down enterprise solutions,'" Thome said. "Yet when comparing drive capacity, they compare our AiO SBC600 blade with Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives in a RAID5 configuration against IBM's storage blade capacity using what appears to be mostly Serial ATA (yes desktop drives) in a non-RAID protected configuration. Now I don't know about you, but I would think customers would think SCSI and RAID5 are a part of enterprise technology and reliability."

Dan Olds, principal of the Gabriel Consulting Group, said he has been following IBM's claims and HP's responses, adding that he "love(s) to see a good systems vendor brawl. "IBM is not going to show the easiest configuration," Olds said. "The vulnerability is when you configure these things big, and that's what they are trying to show. The thing is, I was impressed because (IBM) didn't seem to be hiding anything."