HP chops desktops with blade PCs

Corporate environments may be saying goodbye to PCs at every desktop if Hewlett-Packard Canada Co.’s latest developments in the world of virtualization catch on.

The Mississauga, Ont.-based company announced the launch of its blade PCs on Thursday as part of its new Consolidated Client Infrastructure (CCI) solution. The blade PCs represent a new way of computing at the desktop level, according to HP.

The solution essentially virtualizes all PC data into shared pools in the corporate back office. Rather than having a PC at every employee’s desk, employees would have access to a thin client on the desktop with a keyboard and mouse. In a typical CCI environment, the workstations are hooked up to the blade PCs in the back office from which users can access applications, connect online and save to the network via a connected storage area network (SAN) that backs up all data.

“You are saving the resources and the storage you have by pooling them as a shared resource,” explained Tim Prime, product marketing manager, Commercial Desktops for HP Canada. “CCI is really virtualization applied to desktop PCs. It is a virtualization solution that allows customers to significantly reduce the TCO of owning a desktop across its entire life cycle.”

According to Prime, the CCI solution is not for every office environment. He explained that in order for the solution to make financial sense, corporations should have roughly 1,000 PC users. While the initial investment is slightly higher than the cost of equipping all employees with desktop PCs — approximately $1,500 per user — Prime said customers will see significant savings in terms of managing the solution over time.

“The savings you are seeing are on those other costs that relate to the ownership of the desktop,” he said. “You are almost looking at about a 50 per cent savings over the lifecycle. The (CCI) lifecycle will be a little bit longer than that of a desktop as well.”

The announcement ties into one of the industry’s latest trends — virtualization. According to Billy Dupley, business solution manager with HP Canada, what has happened in IT historically is businesses have over-bought and under-utilized technological assets. Virtualization essentially pools all data resources to create an always-on, easily managed environment where resources can be added or cut back depending on usage.

“You want to make sure that the server technology, the storage technology, the applications and the network are all virtualized or adjustable,” Dupley said. “Virtualization is really about making it a lot easier to do the plumbing in the data centre. We are going to see huge cost changes for this as well as service improvements. The service level will become much more predictable. The CCI solution takes care of the weakest link in our architecture — the PC. It eliminates that link and improves the reliability of computing.”

According to a Gartner Inc. report, by 2008, enterprises not using virtualization technologies will spend 25 per cent more annually for hardware, software, labor and space for Intel servers, and 15 per cent more on the same for RISC servers.

The HP CCI blade PCs are available now. Thin client, SAN, keyboards and mouse equipment are sold separately.

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