RLX Plots New Blade Approach

UPDATED: Faced with stiff competition from server vendor giants like IBM and HP , RLX Technologies will stop selling blade
servers and focus instead on selling software to manage blades.


RLX will continue to provide hardware support to its existing customers and
hardware warranties will be honored, said Scott Farrand, vice president of
software engineering at RLX.


Though he declined to provide a specific number, Farrand told
internetnews.com RLX has let about one third of the staff go, with
cuts coming in the company’s hardware design division. RLX will also close
its hardware design center in Hillsboro, Ore., and retain its Woodland Hills,
Texas, headquarters.


RLX will focus on selling its flagship Control Tower software suite
for all major blade and server platforms, including rivals IBM, HP and Dell
. The suite provides on-the-fly server monitoring,
alerting, provisioning and policy automation.


“Customers who had enjoyed Control Tower on the RLX hardware wanted us to
move that to other equipment in their shop,” Farrand said. “That combined
with the challenges in competing in this maturing market have led us to this
new business decision.”


Blades are modular servers that require fewer cables, as well as less power
and space, making them attractive for enterprises with fewer resources.
These characteristics also make them more convenient for utility computing
environments, where customers press a few buttons to procure more computing
resources, paying as they go.


Customers have voiced their concerns about a lack of common server
management tools, paving the way for RLX to make inroads with its Control
Tower platform. Farrand said RLX’s value proposition is that it will treat
all devices in a data center as if they are the same, a departure from the
strategies of most hardware and software vendors.


“Typically, system vendor strategies is to do a little better job on your
own stuff, if you do the others at all,” Farrand said, referring to vendors
who fear designing technology that supports competing systems. “We know this
first hand in that this previously was our strategy.”


A heterogeneous management framework is important in blade server
environments, tethering together products from different vendors. Common
management remains one of the barriers to adoption in the server world, as
customers are loathe to shell out for products if they are not sure they will
work with the existing hardware in their data centers.


Control Tower RLX will be working with original equipment manufacturers and
server customers to provide the Control Tower management suite.


Founded by former Compaq executives, RLX is widely credited as the first
blade server vendor. But in the last few years, major server vendors like IBM, HP, Dell and Sun
Microsystems have poured
their resources into the blade market, making it difficult for
smaller vendors to compete.


IBM is the reigning blade market leader,
with a 44.2 percent share, according to statistics from
IDC. HP follows with 32 percent. The research firm said blade servers
accounted for $287 million in the third quarter.

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