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Hewlett-Packard Co. is integrating a Gigabit Ethernet switch from Cisco Systems Inc. into its blade server architecture, a move company officials said will reduce the costs of running the blades and make it easier for users to blend them into their Cisco infrastructure.

The two companies co-developed the Cisco Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module, which will be integrated into HP’s BladeSystem chassis. The integrated switch will be available in BladeSystems later in February.

The integrated networking switch will save users up to 16 percent in costs over a traditional rack-mounted system, according to Rick Becker, vice president and general manager of HP’s BladeSystem Division. The cost savings will result from reduced cabling and increased manageability, Becker said. The switch will enable users to more easily provision resources without having to rewire individual components.

“By having the switch integrated into the infrastructure, it will reduce the complexity and make it simpler,” Becker said. “You reduce the need to cable every server into the switch. You can reduce 16 or 32 cables to two to four cables.”

Both companies are seeing increasing demand for products that are compatible with blade server environments. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., expects that blade servers will account for half of all scale-out servers it sells by 2008, with revenue reaching almost $500 million, Becker said.

Click here to read about HP’s plans to integrate Brocade’s SAN switching capabilities into the BladeSystem architecture.

Last year, Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., unveiled a data center initiative, which includes a series of blueprints and strategies for users laying out a data center, said Maciej Kranz, director of Cisco’s Desktop Switch Business Unit.

“The interest in blade server environments is picking up a lot,” Kranz said. “The central requirement [in data centers] is compatibility.”

The Cisco Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module represents the first joint hardware project between HP and Cisco, Kranz said. He expects more joint projects will follow.

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