RealTime IT News

HP Serves 'Shorty' to SMBs

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The SMB  market sure is getting some love this week. First Dell announced its more affordable storage solution for smaller businesses, and now HP is getting in on the game with a new all-in-one server.

The formal name for the product is the HP c3000 BladeSystem, but Executive Vice President Ann Livermore and her team referred to the box as "Shorty" at a briefing here at HP's  campus.

Livermore stated that the mid-tier market is "tired of watered-down enterprise products," and the c3000 is aimed at what the company calls the "global 500,000," small to mid-sized companies that heretofore have not been properly served with blade technology. Starting at $4,299, Shorty will allow a small business to set up its Web, e-mail and business servers along with storage and backup systems all in one box.

"They want to simplify their infrastructure and not have to worry about servers, storage, all of the interconnects. Simplicity is not about going to a Web site and making a few selections. Simplicity is about what happens when the box hits the floor," said Paul Miller, vice president of marketing for HP Enterprise storage and servers.

About the same height and width as a standard tower server but double the depth, the C3000 can start out with as few as two blades but expand to eight. It will take any blades that run in HP's higher end C7000 series, for up to 138,000 different potential configurations. All the blades are hot swappable.

Its all-in-one design allows for servers, storage, processing, backup and servers to all be crammed into one box, which is so heat efficient it can sit in a room with 100-degree ambient temperature and still remain cool.

Shorty is meant to fit anywhere, out of sight. "You name it, we expect to see Shorty there," said Mark Potter, vice president of HP BladeSystems. "We expect to see it in planes, trains, and automobiles. Shorty will be in cruise ships. It's going to be everywhere."

Because of its integration, cabling and interconnects are not needed, and all of the pieces within Shorty recognize each other, so there is next to no configuration required for the server to see the storage and backup systems, for example. As such, HP now becomes the single provider for all of these components.

"Customers in mid-size companies have storage and servers and networking all from different providers, and they have a hard time figuring out, 'Who do I call if something breaks?' Now they have a solution that's integrated as one. Now a reseller can sell it as one," said Miller.

John Abbott, chief analyst with The 451 Group, said storage networking is complex, as well as complex to integrate and is looking for an alternative to what's on the market now.

"Blades in general have never cracked the mid-market, because it's been too expensive," he told InternetNews.com. "I don't know if they've quite gotten there yet. You have to grow up to five or six blades before you have a cost-effective box, but this could encourage the market to look at blades, and they have identified a need."

But Valerie Reamer, president and owner of Gekkotek, a hardware and services provider, thinks the c3000 is just right.

"This is a revolutionary change in the fact it is built and directed toward people who don't have highly specialized people on-site; it is geared toward the business owner working 80 to 90 hours a week to stay successful. It takes away concerns about power, budget, a lack of a tech staff, and allows them to go back to the main issue of making money," she said.

HP also announced the StorageWorks All-in-One SB600c Storage Blade for both the c3000 and c7000. The new blade provides network-attached storage, iSCSI SAN capabilities and data protection in one device.

The company also announced a set of Total Care Initiatives for the mid-market. Like the c3000, these services are not the enterprise solutions watered down for smaller customers.

The services are built around Shorty and include financing, maintenance, design and setup of the system, education and training. There will also be enhanced support services for 24/7 support, according to Sally Shimada-Lee, manager of global services sales programs at HP.