Compaq readies new management software, blade servers

Compaq Computer Corp. will start selling server management software options in addition to the software customers get free with the purchase of a ProLiant server, the company said Wednesday. Compaq also gave out more details on its blade servers.

Starting early next year all ProLiant servers will be shipped with a free ProLiant Essentials Foundation Pack, which includes SmartStart and Insight Manager, the tools that come with Compaq servers sold today. In addition, Compaq will sell new ProLiant Essentials Value Packs, the company said in a statement.

“We used to throw in management software free of charge. Now, because the software is so much more powerful, we are starting to sell the software and starting to create a revenue stream around software,” said Hugh Jenkins, vice-president of marketing for Compaq’s Industry Standard Server Group.

The optional packages include: software for remote server deployment, which allows an administrator to remotely set up a server; resource management, which is used to allocate server resources to specific applications; and remote management, Jenkins said. Compaq is not giving out pricing information at this time.

The new software is a “key feature” of Compaq’s ProLiant BL family of blade servers, due out next year, according to the Compaq statement. The software enables such features as rip-and-replace with automated “personality migration,” making it easier for administrators to replace or add servers, Compaq said.

“After plugging in a new blade, the server will be intelligent enough to see that a new blade has been added and will be able to add a personality to that blade, for example make it a Microsoft (Corp.) Exchange server,” Jenkins explained.

Compaq is planning to launch three different tiers of blades, with the simplest single-processor blade server due on the market in January, Jenkins said.

The first-tier blades will have a single Intel Corp. ultra low-voltage (ULV) processor and a fixed hard disk drive. Over 200 of these “hyper-density” blades will fit into a 19-inch (42.26 centimetres) by 42U rack when mounted in a 3U-high enclosure, according to Jenkins. The standard measure of height in 19-inch-wide rack-mounted server systems is 1U (1.75 inches or 44.5 millimetres).

“The best we can do today is 42 servers in one of those racks,” Jenkins said, adding that the single-processor blades could be used as a DNS (Domain Name System) server, a firewall or a small Web server.

Second-tier blades, scheduled to be available shortly after January and good for use as larger Web servers, for example, will have two Intel Pentium III processors, multiple hot-swappable disk drives and will fit into a 6U high enclosure, Jenkins said.

The top blades will have four processors and are designed to run databases, or a large Exchange server. These blades won’t be available until later in 2002, Jenkins said.

All blades will have remote-management capability embedded on an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) according to Jenkins. Other Compaq servers will also get the functionality, he said. Remote management is now offered as an optional full size PCI card with ProLiant servers.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) earlier this week was the first of the large vendors to announce a suite of blade servers, with the first products to ship in volume in January. Sun Microsystems Inc. later that day gave a glimpse of what it is working on, but said it won’t be ready to ship until late next year.

HP will include a management blade with its blade-server chassis that includes management software to monitor the status of the other blades. Users with HP OpenView, the company’s management software product, will be able to manage all blades as an entire system, or as individual components, according to HP.

Compaq Computer, in Houston, can be reached at