IBM offers blade server for the little guy

BladeCenter S simplifies IT for customers, official says

IBM Corp. is adding to its blade server line with an upcoming model targeted at small-to-medium-sized businesses.

The BladeCenter S system is packaged to include server, storage, input-output connections to a network and software integrated into a single chassis. IBM declined to provide pricing information but said it plans to begin shipping the product in the fourth quarter.

"BladeCenter S simplifies IT for our customers," said Alex Yost, vice president and business line executive for IBM's blade products. "Set up is three easy steps: Take it out of the box, plug it in and run the wizard to get it up and running, much like you might do a PC today."

The new model is small enough to sit on a desktop, runs on standard 110- or 220-volt electrical current, requires no raised floor, and features simplified cabling compared to other servers, said Yost.

A BladeCenter S system can include up to six blade servers and will include software for running a typical office environment, such as antivirus protection, VOIP (Voice over IP) phone service, e-mail and file-print functions.

IBM cited an IDC research forecast showing blade computer market revenue growing to US$11 billion by 2010, from $3 billion in 2005. IDC research also forecasts blade sales to account for 18.1 percent of all server sales by 2011, from 6.6 percent this year. Blades are appealing to data center managers because they are smaller and more energy efficient than rack servers.

But in the competition among server vendors for blade sales, IBM comes in second. Hewlett-Packard Co. held a 40.9 percent share of the global blade server market, while IBM held 35.2 percent, also according to IDC.

HP on Monday unwrapped BladeSystem bc2000 and bc2500 machines, claiming they reduce IT management costs while improving data security.

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