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Server makers are continuing to roll out combinations of bundled software and services and scaled-down hardware to give SMBs (small and midsize businesses) the technology they need at a price they can afford.

Hewlett-Packard Co. this week is rolling out the newest of its entry-level ProLiant servers, which offer the latest Intel Corp. chips and scalability features, as well as optional remote management capabilities. For its part, IBM last week unveiled a new chassis for its BladeCenter systems that costs less than half the price of a traditional chassis.

HP officials said despite their small IT staffs and tight budgets, SMBs know what technology they need and what it should cost.

“A fair number of SMBs are [growing in their understanding of technology],” said Vince Gayman, director of product solutions for HP’s SMB unit.

“But clearly their channel partners are [knowledgeable about the technology]. If we’re not refreshing and keeping our technology up-to-date, they’ll know.”

Just weeks after hosting an SMB event in New York, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., this week will unveil the ProLiant ML150, a two-way system powered by Intel’s “Nocona” Xeon chip—which can run 64-bit and 32-bit software—and running the “Lindenhurst” chip set.

The server—which will ship next month with pricing starting at $1,129— features six I/O adapter cards and hard drives and four memory slots. It also includes as an option Lights-Out 100 Remote Management, a card designed for the ML100 series.

What it doesn’t include are features more in demand from larger customers, including advanced cluster capabilities, redundant memory and hot-plug PCI.

Vendors at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo kept small and midsized businesses in mind. Click here to read more.

Brian Clayton, manager of IS at the Dayton, Ohio, law firm Sebaly Shillito & Dyer, is considering the ML150 to help attorneys at trial handle documents and evidence.

“In many trials, we have upward of 300,000 documents,” Clayton said. “[With the ML150], we could image each document and base number it for trial. We could put it all on the ML150 and take it to court and set up a mini-network on our side of the courtroom.”

Rather than have to dig through reams of documents, the lawyers could put the evidence on a projector for the jury to see, he said. “I’m going to get the speed of a [server] in the courtroom, and I don’t need the high-end capabilities I currently have on my [ProLiant] DL360 and ML370,” Clayton said.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., next month will start rolling out the new chassis for its BladeCenter blade systems, said Juhi Jotwani, director of IBM’s BladeCenter Alliance Program. The new chassis will hold all current blade servers, but IBM removed such features as the floppy drive, redundant management module and support for Fibre Channel, technology that SMBs don’t normally need, Jotwani said. That helped IBM lower the price of the new chassis to about $1,000. The traditional chassis costs about $2,500, she said.

IBM also launched what officials are calling Business-in-a-Box offerings, which, essentially, are reference architectures designed for BladeCenter systems and aimed at easing the installation and deployment of a blade server environment.

IBM is also rolling out new services around its blade systems, including one offering, SMBs on-site technical support, to help with the installation of its hardware and Director management software.

Targeting SMBs is important to IBM, which says that 30 percent of its BladeCenter customers have between 100 and 500 employees.

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