HP wants to change desktops into blades

Keep your PC in the server room...
Written by Michael Kanellos, Contributor

Keep your PC in the server room...

HP is looking at taking the technology behind 'blade' servers and applying it to the desktop environment, seeking to combine the benefits of centrally managed computing systems with the familiarity of PCs. In these systems, corporate employees have only a keyboard, a monitor and a docking station on their desks. Their computers, meanwhile, are sandwiched in six-foot-tall racks in central computing rooms that are managed by information technology administrators. The benefits, advocates say, largely revolve around easier management. If a computer fails or needs new software patches, an administrator can fix it without leaving the office. Moving employees from one location to another or replacing a PC requires just switching around a few cables. Software management tools also let administrators dedicate spare disk space on different desktops to back up data on others. Blades "lower manageability costs," said Bob Sutherland, an analyst at Technology Business Research. They make it "easier (on administrators) when a system goes down to get it up and running again." The overall customer base, however, is likely to be small. At the same time, these bladed computers are fully fledged PCs with hard drives, processors and memory. By contrast, thin clients do not have hard drives and do little independent processing, relying on servers and storage systems for these tasks. HP did not return calls to comment on this initiative. Sources close to the company, however, said HP is designing a blade desktop system that may come out commercially within a year. While HP, Dell, IBM and others have been touting bladed servers for more than two years, no multinational company has yet to announce a blade system for desktops. So far, the market has largely been defined by start-up ClearCube. Although sales remain relatively small, several high-profile customers are testing out or installing ClearCube's PCs, including the North American Aerospace Defense Command and various financial services companies. A blade system for PCs "is a very interesting concept. It makes a lot of sense for call centers," said Andy Neff, an analyst at Bear Stearns. Neff, however, said the ultimate sales potential is unclear. Michael Kanellos writes for News.com
Editorial standards