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Three months after shedding its hardware business to focus on its server management software, RLX Technologies Inc. is announcing its first OEM partnership and another round of funding.

RLX was a pioneer in the blade server space, rolling out the System 324 in 2001. However, since then, the space has become dominated by the major vendors, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM.

In December, RLX changed direction, exiting the hardware business and instead focusing on its Control Tower server management suite, selling the software via OEM deals.

For more on RLX’s move away from blade servers, click here.

On Tuesday, the company will announce the first such deal, with Taiwanese company Nexcom International Co. Ltd. Nexcom, headquartered in Taipei, will begin shipping Control Tower in its NexBlade server line in the second quarter, said RLX President and CEO Doug Erwin.

Nexcom has solid server sales in both Asia and Europe, and hopes to leverage Control Tower as a way of gaining traction in the U.S. market, Erwin said.

The two companies were talking last year about jointly developing RLX’s next generation of blade servers, Erwin said. When RLX shifted gears and let go of the hardware business, the joint development talks evolved into the OEM deal.

Erwin said RLX—which recently moved its headquarters from The Woodlands, Texas, to Old Town Spring, Texas—currently is negotiating with two major vendors interested in incorporating Control Tower modules into their management offerings, as well as a half dozen other small companies. He expects to announce other OEM deals within the next 90 days.

In addition to the OEM deal, RLX also is announcing $9.1 million in funding. Among the contributors was Ignition LLC, one of RLX’s first investors, Erwin said.

Since announcing the software-only business plan in December, “things have just taken off,” Erwin said. “We’ve had our major competition—or what used to be our major competition—calling us and talk to us about how they can OEM our software, because our software was really a differentiator for us.”

That will be a key for the company going forward. When RLX announced its shift in strategy, industry analysts said the company had little choice, given the competition in the blade server space. Erwin agreed, saying it no longer made sense for a company the size of RLX to try to compete with the major vendors, particularly once Dell Inc. got back into the space.

Dell’s PowerEdge 1855 is a worthy competitor in the high-end blade server space, claims eWEEK Labs. Read the review here.

However, analysts also said it was important for RLX to strike a deal with a major OEM as quickly as possible. Erwin said he is pleased with the Nexcom deal, and with the prospects for more OEM agreements over the next few months.

In the two years that he has been in charge, RLX has made two key decisions that have enabled it to get to this point, Erwin said. First, the company decided to focus on implementing industry standards—such as Intelligent Platform Management Interface, or IPMI—into Control Tower.

In addition, RLX also split up Control Tower into modules, enabling OEMs to bring whatever modules they want into their own management software. Currently there are seven modules, but Erwin said later this year more will be added to Control Tower, focusing on such areas as virtualization and power management.

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