HP Offers Utility Computing Spark

The company's new Consolidated Client Infrastructure is aimed at replacing the typical desktop PC with blade architecture, designed to reduce PC ownership cost by about half, said Nick van der Zweep, HP's director of utility computing and virtualization.

Under the plan, solution providers can charge customers as little as $1,000 per seat in large installations.

>> 'If [users] can get the extra power when they need it, then turn it off when things are slower, it's a great idea.'

The desktops are replaced with HP's BL10e server blade, as well as a thin-client device connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor. When a customer logs on, the desktop is downloaded onto an unused blade. When finished, the blade is freed for other other users, van der Zweep said.

The customer needs to implement only as many blades as there are concurrent users, as opposed to one desktop per user, and can manage them centrally.

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"Typical customers now spend $4,000 to $8,000 to manage a PC over four years, including acquisition, management and software," van der Zweep said. "With a blade PC, this can be cut in half."

Other vendors have also implemented blade PCs, he said. However, such solutions typically require a dedicated blade per user.

Carl Wolfston, director of Headlands Associates, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based solution provider, said he's curious to see how the concept differs from a thin client connected to a Citrix server. But the strategy, he said, makes sense. "It's nice,you don't have to have someone in the field fixing so many PCs."

HP is also extending its pay-per-use program to include its Integrity Itanium-based servers and its printers. Under this program, customers are billed on a monthly basis for processor use in the servers, and can monitor their usage via a secure portal on a daily basis, van der Zweep said.

"If they can get the extra power when they need it, then turn it off when things are slower, it's a great idea," Wolfston said.