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HP details new blade system road map

Company sees blades as dominant data center technology

June 14, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld -

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Hewlett-Packard Co. today revamped its BladeSystem with a new architecture that improves the management and virtualization capabilities of its blades and incorporates some of the technology capabilities used in its NonStop fault-tolerant servers.

HP also sees blades as becoming a dominant data center technology for users. "The new architecture will drive a new agenda to blade everything," said Anne Livermore, HP's executive vice president, who said the company believes demand for blades will accelerate. The company is reducing 85 data centers to six located in three cities, Houston, Austin and Atlanta.

HP BladeSystem c-Class, announced today, will replace HP's existing p-Class blade. The company will continue to produce blades for the p-Class series through 2007 and will support it through 2012.

The system will initially ship in July with Intel Corp.'s latest dual-core processors. HP plans to add Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s Opteron processors by September and Itanium processors by year's end. Pricing on the c-Class system will be announced in July.

In the next few years, HP said it will produce a blade version of its NonStop system, said Scott Stallard, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise servers and storage, but he said putting the fault-tolerant system on specially made Itanium blades with redundant capability "completely changes the economics for NonStop" and will broaden use of a system primarily used today by financial services and emergency services.

The c-Class server incorporates NonStop capabilities that allow users to add new connections and update systems without having to take other systems down.

In its BladeSystem revamp, HP is putting more blades in a small chassis, keeping with the push toward smaller and denser systems. But it's also added extensive power and cooling management and has included capabilities to control the amount of power the processor needs, plus a water-heat exchanger that can remove heat. Some of the management additions seem simple, such as LCD screens for monitoring the system, which is similar in concept to what is now on the company's printers.

One HP blade user, Kevin Donnellan, director of enterprise infrastructure services at the Screen Actors Guild in Los Angeles, said he is looking to simplify his environment, and the LCD screens will be a help.

"If they can really work, they are going to be a great boon to my administrators," he said. "A visual display really does help a lot," he said. Donnellan has been moving from rack-mounted to blade servers, and can do it for most applications. There are a few applications, however, such as the voice-response system used with the group's telephone service, that can't work on a blade.

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