HP planning blade PCs, hardware updates

By Tom Krazit

Hewlett-Packard Co. is set to announce a blade PC product next Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.

The company is planning a major refresh of new hardware products for the enterprise market next week, and the introduction of its blade PCs will be one of the highlights of the announcement. Blade PCs are thin, rack-mounted devices stored in server rooms that users access through Ethernet connections to small boxes mounted on their desks.

They are somewhat similar to thin client devices. But thin clients access applications and data centrally stored and managed on a server. Blade PCs operate as separate, individual clients that are mounted in a rack, but have failover capabilities to other blades in the rack and can be monitored as a whole. HP’s product is expected to have characteristics of both blade PCs and thin clients, sources said.

Some users balk at thin-client technology, which places control of their PC squarely in the hands of the IT department. But central management of blade PCs is touted by some vendors and IS executives as saving money, and increasing security through closer monitoring of network traffic.

An Austin, Tex.-based startup company called ClearCube Inc., for example, sells rack-mounted PCs and IT managers have started paying more attention to the company’s products as businesses look for simpler IT management ideas.