Press that's not completely approved
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Which HP blade will cut it for you?

HP's VP of marketing for Business Critical Systems said here at the Technology Forum that blade technology was the biggest message for critical systems users like you. The one printed press release I was given touted a new blade system for the Non-Stop operating environment. It's important to show that non-standard operating systems can be matched up with blade technology.

The headline read "HP introduces World's First Blade Server for 24/7 Mission-Critical Computing." You can be excused if you believe you already own Mission-Critical operating environment in MPE/iX.  Michelle Weiss even pointed out that some Non-Stop servers manage 911 systems. That's something the 3000 still does for some US entities, but that's not the point. Blades are an HP product you will only need if you're migrating.

Since many of you are doing that, a Blade 101 article seems in order. We'll soon be providing a better one that this introduction. HP's written a few, but the most important number is not 101, but 69. This is the share of the world's blade market which HP and outside analysts estimate that Hewlett-Packard holds today.

That's something just a bit less than Apple's hold on portable music players with its iPod. And HP seems to have the equivalent of the iPod of blade servers — so named because they are long and slim and so small they make disk drive enclosures seem bulky. Blades consume less power and can be managed from HP's "single pane of glass" interface.

Blades represent a solution where HP leads the field. But which patch of the field should the HP 3000 users who migrate consider as a new hardware platform? And which migrators can start farming out their 3000 computing onto blade servers today?

As it turns out, being able to virtualize an operating environment instance is a good measure of whether a blade will offer new opportunities to help offset its capital costs. In a 3000 update meeting on Tuesday, HP said that replacing a 3000 of A-Class or lower power was a good match for a blade. N-Class replacements are going to need a faster generation of processor to capture all the advantage of blade servers.

HP has been quick to remind us here that faster Itanium processors from Intel like Tukwila are only a matter of months away from getting to the vendors who build blades.

Blades support all five HP operating environments still on the "we'll sell you those" list: Windows, Linux, HP-UX, NonStop and OpenVMS. The blade servers support small to medium workloads individually, accept Integrity Virtual Machines, have moderate scalability requirements and moderate failover requirements.

Down in HP's booth in the Expo show floor, a senior product engineer showed me two enclosures in which to place your blade servers, the c3000 (coincidence, no?) and the c7000. It's a matter of how many blade systems you'll want to install and how much attached storage you will need, but the blades which you install in the c3000 enclosure can be moved to a c7000 if your needs grow.

HP made it easy to feel good about taking away more details on the products. In a clever use of green technology, HP placed laptops around its exhibit space to request product literature about the key solutions for mission-critical customers like you. Tick a box next to a product, fill in an e-mail address, and you get an HP e-mail with links that will drop datasheet and whitepaper PDF files onto your desktop. Save a tree.

HP got a glowing review of its blade solution with big mention of the power savings the solutions deliver. There's also a roundup of the blade server family, as well as a good primer on the why's of design of the blade server enclosures and why HP believes they're a good fit for a midsize company.

Whatever saves energy and space deserves a closer look in our world where energy and resource capacity are growing issues. Getting things smaller and cooler seems like a great idea this week, sitting in one of the largest resort complexes in the world with the highs outside nearing 110 degrees.