HP to buy blade management expert RLX

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is to buy RLX Technologies Inc. as a way to provide better systems management for HP blades running Linux, the company announced Monday. The deal is part of HP’s strategy to plug holes in its enterprise management product portfolio via acquisition.

Once a seller of blade hardware, RLX exited that business late last year, to focus on software — its blade and Linux management suite, RLX Control Tower.

HP didn’t reveal the financial terms of the deal, which is set to close within 30 days pending unspecified conditions, according to an HP statement.

Once the purchase is completed, RLX will become part of HP’s BladeSystem business in the company’s Technology Solutions Group. Final integration of RLX with HP should be finished next year, HP stated in additional information relating to the proposed purchase on its Web site.

Initially, HP intends to optimize Control Tower for its BladeSystem architecture, according to the statement. Within six months, HP expects the RLX software to be 100 percent compatible with its BladeSystem products, the company stated on its Web site.

Over time, HP plans to integrate Control Tower into its existing server, storage and enterprise management software suites, Systems Insight Manager (SIM), ProLiant Essentials and OpenView. The ultimate aim is to simplify and unify the management of HP servers whether they’re running Linux, Unix or Windows, the release stated. HP will incorporate Control Tower into its plans to develop a (SOA) service-oriented architecture based on integrating SIM and OpenView, the company said on its Web site.

RLX employs 36 staff and has around 200 customers around the globe. The firm was a pioneer in the blade hardware market. Although RLX quit the hardware market in December 2004, some customers are still using its blades and HP committed to supporting them through their warranty periods.

Today’s blade market is widely seen by analysts as a two-horse race between HP and IBM Corp. However, HP has significantly lagged behind IBM when it comes to market share in the Linux-based blade space, with some experts suggesting that in the second quarter of 2005 Big Blue sold three times as many of the servers running the open-source operating system than HP did. HP hopes the addition of RLX management technology to its Linux version of SIM will help attract more customers for its blades.

HP stated on its Web site that it has no plans at present to open source Control Tower, but may revisit that policy in the future.

HP has been pursuing a steady strategy of acquiring companies and their technologies to fill in gaps in its enterprise management software suites, including the pending purchases of IT asset and service management software vendor Peregrine Systems Inc. and storage area network management software firm AppIQ Inc. announced last month.

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