IBM to offer slimmed-down blade chassis for small firms

IBM will begin selling a new slimmed-down version of its BladeCenter server chassis next month aimed at enticing small- and...

IBM will begin selling a new slimmed-down version of its BladeCenter server chassis next month aimed at enticing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) into blade computing.

The company has also begun selling five new reference architectures for BladeCenter products, with the same goal in mind.

"We want to dispel the notion that blades are only for large enterprises," said Juhi Jotwani, director for BladeCenter alliances at IBM. She estimated that 30% of IBM's blade sales come from SMBs.

The new chassis will use the same blade servers as IBM's current chassis, but it will be less expensive and devoid of certain features, including a floppy disc drive, a second, redundant, management module and support for attachment to storage area networks.

IBM will initially offer the SMB chassis at a 90-day promotional rate of about $1,000 (£547), Jotwani said. Final list pricing has not yet been determined, she said.

IBM is now offering a number of new "Business in a Box" reference architectures - documentation which contains suggestions on how best to set up and deploy the systems.

For users of its Intel-based blade servers, IBM will offer architectures centred on Microsoft or Linux operating systems, as well as SteelEye Technology's high availability software and Citrix Systems' hosted client application. Additionally, the computer supplier will announce a reference architecture for the life sciences industry that uses IBM's Power-based JS20 blades.

IBM decided against offering pre-configured bundles of its products, Jotwani said. "SMB customers just hate bundles, because they feel that one way or the other, they're paying for something they don't need," she said. "The whole point is to give the customer the reference architecture and the building blocks to implement the architecture."

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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