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HP shrinks BladeSystem for mid-market

'Shorty' kicks blades out of the data center and onto the floor

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The mid-market push has definitely been heating up for tech vendors in recent weeks. We've already seen Dell, IBM and Hitachi touting their simplified server and storage lines with SMB-aimed gear, and frankly, we're starting to recite the hard sell for companies with limited budgets and expertise in our sleep.

Now Hewlett-Packard has played its hand for the market space today, led by the new HP BladeSystem c3000, or "Shorty," as they call it. It's a fresh, compact blade enclosure in HP's c-Class server line that is aimed to appeal to a market not predisposed to adopting a technology more commonly used in massive data centers.

A rack-based version of Shorty — which is available now — comes in a tight 6U form factor (about 10.5 inch height) and holds up to 8 dual-socket half-height blades or 4 full height blades. It has no special cooling or power requirements, with up to four redundant power supplies plugging into a standard 110 or 220-volt wall socket.

HP will also address those lacking a formal data center by introducing a tower version of the c3000 early next year. The space-conscious will be able to fit this Shorty-on-wheels in about two square feet of floor space. HP touts it as a rugged little box that will be perfectly at home on the floor of a warehouse, in a closet or under a desk — and the unit is able to run in temperatures up to 100 fahrenheit.

Ann Livermore, veep of HP's Technology Solution Group, said the c3000 was designed for businesses with between 100 and 1,000 employees. This demographic, she claims, has been under-served in the past by being sold enterprise class solutions that have simply been watered down, rather than built specifically for the market. Despite the main focus on these so-called "global 500,000" companies, however, HP claims the c3000 also fits the bill for branch or remote offices of large corporations.

"For the first time, customers with space and IT staffing constraints can take advantage of the business benefits that a bladed infrastructure delivers," said Livermore. "The c3000 is truly a 'deploy anywhere, do anything' infrastructure that is easy to manage and architected for growth."

In the back, Shorty sports 1 Ethernet bay and 3 Interconnect Bays with support for any I/O fabric. In the front, the system includes a 3-inch LCD screen that displays the status of the system and provides an interface for the server's management software.

For those dependent on tape, customers can back up data within the c3000 using the HP StorageWorks Ultrium 448c Tabe Blade.

The c3000 is compatible with the existing line of HP BladeSystem c-Class servers. It also supports the HP ProLiant, Integrity and StorageWorks server and storage blades. According to Paul Miller, HP's VP of server marketing, the c3000 has a ROI breakeven at three to five blades — depending on whether Ethernet or Fibre is used. Pricing for the c3000 starts at $4,300.

Shorty's best friend

Riding along the announcement is HP's new storage blade, the All-in-One SB600c. The company has dubbed the blade "Shorty's best friend," although this is somewhat of an affectionate misnomer, as it is compatible both with the c3000 and c7000 enclosures.

The SB600c offers 1TB of shared storage built-in and is expandable to 9TB.

HP claims that the blade is easily managed by the "IT generalists" that populate SMBs, offering application storage wizards for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server. The SB600c is available now, starting at about $10,000.

Service please

For businesses looking to run multiple applications in a consolidated environment, HP is offering what it calls Solution Blocks. These are tested and documented combinations of their server blade hardware and software. HP is also offering systems designed and integrated with software from Citrix, Microsoft, Oracle, Sage Software, SAP and VMware, as well as local independent software vendors.

They are also offering new HP Care Pack services available through the company and its channel partners. The fixed-price services include HP Support Plus 24 for the c3000, installation and start-up support and c3000 enclosure hardware support. Livermore said the company has already trained and prepared 5,000 partners for Shorty, and are ready to go. (And gonna party like it's your birthday.)

Bootnote

Oh God, we are so sorry for that last part. ®

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