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HP buys bladeless blade server pioneer RLX

Sue first, acquire later

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Troubled blade server veteran RLX Technologies has been snatched up by HP for an undisclosed sum.

The two companies announced the deal Monday morning, saying HP plans to use RLX's software for Linux blade server management. This deal must be a huge relief for RLX's current management, which has struggled to find a successful niche for the company's gear. HP expects the transaction to close within 30 days.

"With Linux's expansion into blade server environments, customers want tools that deliver simpler and more robust management," said Rick Becker, a vice president and general manager at HP. "Following our recently announced acquisitions of AppIQ and Peregrine Systems, RLX represents another step in HP's expanding enterprise management capabilities to help enterprise and small and medium business customers simplify their IT environments and cut costs."

RLX pioneered the blade server market, offering compact systems well before any of the Tier 1 vendors. In fact, RLX's strategy was so aggressive that Compaq sued the start-up, claiming it had gained access to trade secrets by raiding Compaq's executive staff. The two companies settled this lawsuit in 2001.

After years peddling its blade systems, RLX in 2004 gave up on the hardware business and decided to focus only on selling its highly-regarded management software. At the time, it laid off most of its staff, leaving it with 36 employees.

The shift to software reflected RLX's inability to defeat HP and IBM in the blade server market and its troubles making use of well over $100m in venture funding. RLX tried time and again to develop a niche, focusing at points on high performance computing, government clients and later bio-tech firms. In the end, it couldn't survive, and, as many expected would happen long ago, a big boy bought it out. ®

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