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HP and Red Hat create blade server bundle of the future

Lump of Linux

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HP and Red Hat have engineered something they're calling a blade server bundle that aims to make software licensing easier on customers.

The companies plan to sell a per chassis license for management software and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux operating system instead of moving this code on a per server or per processor basis. Neither company backed up their announcement of the deal with a surplus of detail. Instead, they pitched the bundle in general terms, describing it as a futuristic model for shipping flexible software and hardware combinations.

For example, vendors often point to blade servers as key pieces of their virtualization strategies. The idea is that workloads can be moved from one blade to the next as failures occur or as demand spikes. In such scenarios, customers don't want to keep track of which software license belongs to which server or whether or not they're breaking an agreement by having too many systems crank away on a given application.

With the bundle, customers pay a fee for the entire chassis and can then stack it full of as much hardware as possible.

How does the bundle cost compare to standard deals?

HP and Red Hat aren't disclosing that information just yet, which should make any customer nervous. After a bit of digging, however, we discovered that the bundle combines 8 instances of RHEL 4, 8 instances of Red Hat Management and Provisioning modules and the Red Hat Network Proxy server software under one subscription number.

An HP executive was quoted as saying the bundle may be as much as 20 per cent cheaper than buying 8 separate Red Hat licenses, but we found nothing in HP's documentation to back up that claim.

Customers that can fit up to 16 blades in their BL3Xp chassis will need to buy two bundles. The deal applies to both Xeon and Opteron systems and is available with HP's indemnification against SCO.

"The Red Hat Linux Enterprise Linux bundle is ideal for customers who want to deploy Red Hat Linux operating systems to servers and prefer the Red Hat Network method of deployment," HP said. "The ProLiant Essentials Rapid Deployment Pack Linux Edition is more hardware-centric in its deployment tasks (e.g. associating tasks to a blade slot)."

HP and Red Hat seem to have good intentions, but as with any new pricing model, it's difficult to tell how these changes will benefit the customer over the long haul. Are HP and Red Hat really making life easier on you or just trying to sell more software and servers?

More information on the bundle is available here. ®

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