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Looking to revitalize its blade server line, HP has rolled out new services and software to complement the compact systems.

HP today launched its BladeSystem - an overarching term meant to encompass the company's hardware, software and services. The BladeSystem monicker is simply a marketing boost for an already present set of technology. The storage side of the house performed a similar makeover last week with the HP StorageWorks Grid labeling.

This week HP is looking to remind customers that is was the first of the major vendors to zoom into the blade market. HP reckons that its blade technology has matured to a point where it should offer the typical software and services bundles found in the rest of its hardware lines.

The most concrete part of HP's BladeSystem announcement is a new deal that will see customers receive a one-day blade server services engagement for $1,600. This price covers installation and start-up services for "1-5 servers of a pre-configured script, or an image captured from an existing HP ProLiant blade server." Yeah, it's less attractive when you quote from the press release footnote.

In addition, HP is touting the Insight Manager 4.2, Essentials Virtual Machine Management Pack and Essentials Automation Controller Pack software products for managing blade systems. All of these packages have been tuned to work with blade servers, automating many of the tedious provisioning tasks typically done by administrators.

In total, HP expects to churn out about $500m in blade sales during 2005 and to surpass billions in sales by 2007. The compact servers will play a key role in HP's larger utility computing efforts, executives said during a press conference today.

That said, HP has a lot of catching up to do to match blade server market leader IBM. Over the past two years, IBM has usurped HP as the blade server king, according to research firm IDC. In the second quarter of this year, IBM pumped out $102m in blade server revenue, enjoying 235 per cent growth. HP held onto a strong second position with $74m in sales and 85 per cent growth. Dell finished a distant third with $8m in sales.

HP could make gains later this year when it begins rolling out Opteron processor-based blades. ®

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