HP clears desktop space with blade PCs

Thin blade computers can be stored and managed in a central location

Hewlett-Packard’s bc1000 blade PCs, first announced last year, are now available in North America to customers looking to manage their employees’ desktop PCs from a central location.

Blade PCs are thin computers stored in a rack in a company’s server room. Users can connect to individual blades through a small desktop device. HP has its own access device called the HP Compaq Thin Client for this purpose.

The idea behind blade PCs is that centrally managed PCs are easier to secure, repair, and update. They also reduce maintenance costs for organizations with limited space and resources. Most customers deploy about eight or nine blade PCs for every 10 users, said Tad Bodeman, director of product marketing for the personal systems group at HP.

Some organizations need to ensure that each employee has a blade available at any given moment, but most companies interested in blade PCs do not have every employee online at the same time, Bodeman said.

A user connects to a single blade PC with a dedicated processor and storage for the blade’s operating system and applications. Documents and files are stored on a SAN or NAS device.

Network managers can connect the individual Compaq Thin Client devices through standard Ethernet wiring or over a wireless connection to their LAN, Bodeman said. Remote users can purchase thin clients with integrated modems that can dial in to the LAN and connect to a blade PC through a VPN connection, he said.

Each bc1000 blade PC comes with a 1GHz Efficeon processor from Transmeta, a 40GB hard drive, and as much as 1GB of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM. HP’s bc1000 blade PC is part of its Consolidated Client Infrastructure, a larger strategy for consolidating PCs with virtualization software and storage devices.

ClearCube sells a similar product to financial services and call center customers.