VARs Question IBM's SMB Blade Push

"Most of our customers have from one to 15 servers," said Pete Busam, vice president and COO of Decisive Business Systems, a solution provider in Pennsauken, N.J. "If you're looking at racks and racks of servers, [blades] make all the sense in the world. SMB customers like the theory, but if you look at just buying a [stand-alone] server for what they need to do, long term it's more cost-effective than a blade. As it gets pushed a little more, you'll see more blades in the SMB. Another 12 months from now, blades will see better traction in SMB."

Small companies aren't really looking for blade servers, according to John DeRocker, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nexus Information Systems, a Plymouth, Minn.-based solution provider. "Most of the customers that are going to blades are not small businesses. They are medium or enterprise customers because they are doing server consolidation," he said. "[My blade customers] have at least 50 servers, and they are consolidating."

Plans call for IBM to roll out a new entry-level BladeCenter Express model chassis targeted at SMBs, which Big Blue defines as companies with 999 employees or fewer. IBM also plans to offer blade solution bundles it calls Business In A Box.

The new offerings are designed to dispel the notion that blade servers are an enterprise-only play, Jeff Benck, vice president for IBM eServer BladeCenter, said in a statement.

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An IBM spokesman said the basic BladeCenter Express chassis, to be available Nov. 24, will come with a 90-day promotional price of about $1,000. A typical price for a full chassis is about $2,500, he said. The blade solution bundles include Business In A Box with Linux Solutions and as well as Business in a Box Microsoft Solutions. IBM also announced a BladeCenter system for the bioinformatics sector of the life sciences industry. The IBM eServer BladeCenter JS20 comes with IBM Power processors, Linux and open-source solutions.