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HP's Forecast for Blade Servers: Red Hot

Sales of Hewlett-Packard blade servers have been so aggressive that company execs Monday claimed early victory in the subset of the server arena.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker said it reached a milestone in its enterprise blade server product line by becoming the first vendor to surpass 1,800 blades sales per month.

HP has been looking to use the thin servers that fit on a single card to outpace rivals IBM and Sun Microsystems in the overall server sector.

"The blade server market is taking off like a rocket and it's only the most agile and innovative vendors that can take advantage of this opportunity," said James Mouton, vice president of enterprise servers, HP Industry Standard Servers. "HP has set the bar high by delivering truly successful blade solutions, with a winning combination of hardware, software management and services.

Blade servers are thinner than normal rack-mount pizza boxes that live in server rooms around the globe. The system fits on a single card, or blade, which means that network interfaces, the CPU, the memory, and the hard disk are installed on the card. The blades are plugged into a single chassis, where an IT manager can generally fit 16 server blades into the space previously occupied by a single server.

Since they were released last year, HP claims it has maintained its lead in the market with 54.8 percent market share - more than 18 percentage points ahead of the nearest competitor - according to IDC. The analyst firm also estimates blade server market will reach $2.9 billion by 2005 and that the power and space saving design will have captured approximately 23 percent of entry-level server unit sales and 10 percent of entry-level server revenue.

HP currently offers comprehensive blade server products ranging from ProLiant BL e-Class low-voltage blades to more advanced ProLiant BL p-Class dual ones.

The company said it is currently developing four-processor performance blades for mid-tier and back-end applications.

Hewlett-Packard also took the wraps of its new notebook, the Compaq Evo Mobile Workstation N800w. The mobile workstation is being targeted at laptop users who need lots of computing power or graphics options in a lightweight device.

The $3,899 portables start at 6.0 lbs with a 15-inch panel and come with digital content creation (DCC); mechanical CAD/architectural engineering and construction; and geographic information systems. The notebooks also include ATI's MOBILITY Fire GL 9000 graphics technology for better 3-D rendering and video performance.

HP said it has also struck a deal with the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) to deliver technology products to growing businesses through the ASBDC Web site.

Under HP's referral program, the site (www.asbdc-us.org) will allow the more than 600,000 small- to medium-sized businesses assisted by ASBDC member programs each year to access HP's broad portfolio of affordable and reliable IT products.

"Small business accounts for 99 percent of all U.S. businesses," said Robyn West, vice president of marketing, HP Personal Systems Group. "We rely on partners such as the ASBDC that serve small businesses and our extensive network of authorized resellers, integrated solution providers and retailers to help us deliver value and satisfaction with our products."