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IBM has signed up more than 110 companies to build technologies to the open specification for its BladeCenter systems.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., and chip maker Intel Corp. in September released the open specification, enabling outside vendors to build such technology as networking switches and adapter cards. The goal was to create an ecosystem around the BladeCenter platform and drive sales of the blade server architecture by enabling third parties to build technology for the blade architecture.

“This gives us the ability to leverage what is the success of blades,” said Tim Dougherty, director of marketing for BladeCenter. “[Blade servers are] a new way of looking at the infrastructure. So is it going to be successful? … I think the answer is yes. This is still the fastest growing server product in [IBM] history.”

Included among the 110-plus companies announced Friday that are building to the spec are Emulex Corp., which is developing Fibre Channel host bus adapters, and Ranch Networks Inc., which is building a network control option blade.

Blade servers—small form factors that are housed in a chassis and share such components as power supply and I/O—are among the fastest growing server categories. According to International Data Corp., blades will account for a quarter of server sales by 2007.

Most OEMs have some level of blade offerings. IBM and Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., launched the BladeCenter design in 2002, and created the BladeCenter Alliance Program to entice partners to port their software to the platform.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs’ review of three blade servers.

Dell Inc. last month jumped back into the blade market with the PowerEdge 1855, its first blade system in almost three years.

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