Intel Opens Up IBM BladeCenter Specs

"We are seeing a lot of interest among system builders to get involved in the blade market," said Pat Buddenbaum, blade server product manager for Intel's enterprise products group. "What we are trying to do with this is get the networking ecosystems vendors more actively involved in the market. In turn, that will create more interest among end users to adopt blades in the IT architecture, and that will help encourage more system builders to get involved in the blade market. It's a self-fulfilling circle."

Buddenbaum said that about 100 Intel system builders worldwide are currently building blade solutions. "We're slowly ramping our engagement with the product line out to the general channel market to make sure we have the right support resources in place to match it with the companies that are interested and capable of selling this class of products into enterprise accounts."

Brian Deeley, president of Graymar Business Solutions, a system builder in Timonium, Md., said he is currently selling IBM BladeCenters and will start training in November on the new Intel blade platform. "We are very interested in [white-box blade servers]," he said. "Some customers demand a branded system, but others are happy to get a high-end white box knowing that the product base is coming from Intel. Opening up BladeCenter design specifications will be great."

The two companies said releasing the design specifications will help hardware vendors develop BladeCenter-compatible network switches, add-in cards and communications blades for enterprise networks. IBM and Intel will also provide design guidelines and technical support to product developers. Fee-based support from IBM's Engineering and Technology Services organization will also be offered.

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"We've achieved a level of leadership in blades beyond our expectations We feel it's time to open our architecture to others," said Tim Dougherty, IBM's director of BladeCenter marketing.

Kirk Zaranti, senior vice president of sales for the IBM division of Logicalis, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said open standards are good for IBM BladeCenter. "Once standards are established, customers will look to the leader," he said.

JOSEPH F. KOVAR contributed to this story.