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Compaq Offers A Peek at Server Blade Apps

Using the phrase "adaptive infrastructure" to classify new software that promises to cope with the increasing neediness of enterprises, Compaq Computer Corp. offered the world a glimpse of new applications from its ProLiant line.

The software package, called ProLiant Essentials, is free, and was designed to correspond with the company's ProLiant ML and DL blade server lines. It will also be featured in the BL series (code-named "QuickBlade"), due to arrive on the scene in early 2002. Basically, every ProLiant server will be delivered with a ProLiant Essentials Foundation Pack, which will include Compaq Insight Manager and SmartStart.

Designed to be cooler, and by extension save energy costs, blade servers are thin circuit boards that typically house just a few microprocessors with memory. Able to be stacked a few hundred boards vertically in a rack, they are meant to power a single, dedicated application. Though Compaq previewed QuickBlade in May, Hewlett-Packard Co. caused the industry to sit up and take notice yesterday when it launched its blade server line. Should the proposed HewPaq merger go through, it's conceivable that the combined firms will be strong in this arena, where RLX Technologies Inc., Nexcom and various other hardware vendors compete.

The ProLiant BL Line was created for, here's that buzzword again, "adaptive" computing, by which Compaq means the blade servers act as "virtual data centers that are flexible, pervasive, cost-effective and universally manageable." To do this, BL incorporates the servers, an intelligent rack infrastructure, and management software. Specifically, BL will bundle dense, low-power, blade servers with high-performance 2- and 4-processor blades for more rigorous enterprise applications.

With the Essentials Software Pack, BL servers will offer coveted capabilities such as rip-and-replace servers with automated personality migration for multiple server deployment and dynamic scale-out. All of this means IT administrators can respond to changing requirements more quickly and with less fuss.

Mary McDowell, senior vice president and general manager, Compaq Industry Standard Server Group, explained the reason for her firm's efforts: "Organizations are faced with economic pressures, complex integration issues, scarce resources, and fluctuating demand. Compaq is investing in technologies for adaptive infrastructure that enable customers to maximize their existing IT investments while adapting easily to the changes necessary to remain competitive."

One market research firm analyst approved of Compaq's endeavor. Vernon Turner, vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions at IDC, said the products show that Compaq is aware of the need for dynamic applications in the face of swift change.

"Compaq's vision for an adaptive infrastructure offers protection for customers' existing investments, innovates around standards to drive new value into the industry, and provides a pathway to a computing model that will benefit companies around the world for years to come," Turner said.