HP Beefs Up Blade Server Offerings

HP has added a new blade to its its portfolio that offers twice the capacity and potentially twice the performance over its older models, which could make it much more capable of handling business critical applications.

The HP Integrity BL870c is the same size as previous HP BladeSystem blades, although it occupies twice as many slots, but support twice as many CPUs, four Itanium processors instead of two, and twice the memory and storage capacity, up to 96GB of memory and 584GB of internal disk storage. At the same time, HP claims a 25 percent reduction in power over a comparable rackmount configuration.

“With this doubling of the CPUs, memory and drive capacity, it will allow us to expand our reach into more complex application environments with the advantages of a blade system,” Lorraine Bartlett, director of server marketing in HP’s business critical systems division told InternetNews.com.

James Staten, senior analyst with Forrester Research, agreed. “What’s interesting about this blade is it’s a serious Unix system on a blade,” he said “This is designed for Unix class workloads in the midrange. This sends a signal that big Unix apps do fit on blades and redefines the apps that have been on blades prior.”

[cob:Related_Articles]Staten went on to say most blade systems are not meant for high workload computing. Even Sun Microsystems’ TACC system and IBM’s Blue Gene/L, giant supercomputers build on blades, are grids that distribute the load but some apps, like a database, aren’t written for that.

“The Unix play in blades in the past was low-end offerings, things that really wouldn’t scale very much, like edge servers and some app servers that didn’t have significant workloads. You certainly didn’t put a database on those. This one has the capacity and horsepower for those big apps,” he said.

The BL870c can run Windows Server 2003, HP-UX 11i, OpenVMS, and Red Hat or SuSE Linux. The OpenVMS support is a legacy system HP inherited from Compaq, which bought Digital Equipment Corp. back in 1998.

Despite being a 30-year-old operating system, HP said it still has customers running it. “OpenVMS customers prefer to stay with the tried and true operating environment but like the performance of our blade systems,” said Bartlett.

In addition to the new blade, HP is releasing HP Solution Blocks for Integrity, which is designed to simplify the deployment of enterprise applications and optimize the use of the HP BladeSystem enclosure. The Solution Block suggests optimal configuration of the blade case and what to load on it, best practices for enterprise resource planning (ERP), service-oriented architecture (SOA), application integration and product data management.

In addition, HP will offer five Solution Blocks for major enterprise applications. They are: Oracle/Peoplesoft, SAP, BEA Systems, Siemens PLM and IBM WebSphere. The Blocks will suggest ideal configurations to run those apps on the BladeSystem.

The BladeSystem BL870c is available now, starting at $8,000.

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