HP challenges Dell in the SME market

Two of the biggest suppliers of storage systems for SMEs are going head-to-head with cheaper, lightweight alternatives
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

After Michael Dell on Monday launched his company's first storage system targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises, HP responded with a system of its own on Wednesday.

Both systems are low-cost. The Dell system is priced at £5,497, while the HP BladeSystem c3000 (pictured, left) costs just under £5,000.

But there was a difference between the two launches. Dell could supply an exact figure for a "typical system", yet despite questioning, its executives proved reluctant to provide a detailed specification of what a customer would get for that price. HP, in contrast, offered a reasonably detailed specification of what an exact system for an SME could look like (see diagram below).

HP offers a system with 1TB of shared storage, two Citrix application servers (one for security and one for messaging), a tape system for backup and a unit carrying core software, including services, management and collaboration software.

According to HP, that system is capable of supporting 500 users each with 500MB mailboxes. HP insists that the system, which sits on its c-Class blade chassis, has been optimised for the SME market and is based entirely on HP's own blade components such as its tape system for blades, which was launched last year.

The c3000 is compact, leading to HP dubbing it "Shorty". While the components are standard, "in a blade server, the clever bit is all about the enclosure", said Peter Mansell, HP's business development manager for blade systems.

Users can choose from a range of storage options, network options (Cisco, or others) and processors (Intel or AMD). There is no premium for having a SME configuration, HP said.

Mansell said that the aim is to find economy in things such as the use of space and power. "This unit has integrated cabling, shared power and systems," he said. "[The result is] it will run off standard power with no special cabling or power required."

HP offers two systems for SMEs, with Shorty for smaller companies and the full-height c7000 for larger companies. Shorty is available now, with the c7000 touted for availability in the first quarter of 2008.

SMEs can choose from four different configurations optimised for business intelligence, three configurations for CRM, one for disaster recovery, two for high-performance computing, and one for mail and messaging (the example system shown in the diagram below).

According to HP's Mansell, the system is easy to set up for users. "This is not a product we have dumbed down," he said. "It has been designed from the ground up for this market."


The chart shows the configuration of an HP BladeSystem c3000 setup for mail and messaging support for 500 users. Each of the components is one of HP's standard ones for use with a blade server
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