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Thoughts on the ComputerWorld blade standards panel discussion

Yesterday I participated on a panel discussion sponsored by ComputerWorld.  I was joined by Kurt Lender of Intel and Alex Yost of IBM.  We had a friendly discussion on the importance of innovation and standards for blades.

I guess there were no surprises coming from any of us, but on reflection, I think there are some interesting points to be made.

First Kurt Lender of Intel is proposing the need for more standards around the form factors of blades and interconnects (primarily aimed at SMB markets).  His view includes standardization down to the motherboard dimensions.  However I was struck by his emphasis on the value this brings to the manufacturers of server and blade components.  I guess his point is that such standards benefit those suppliers.  But somewhat left out is what exactly is the benefit to customers.  He did mention the opportunity for suppliers to innovate, but I don't recall exactly what sort of useful innovations he had in mind for customers.

Alex Yost gave his usual pitch for BladeCenter.  His version of open standards was blade.org.  I think this is telling of what IBM really has in mind when it comes to standards: If you go to http://www.blade.org/ it looks like this is an open forum to promote blades.  Until you read the fine print buried in the bylaws that: "Blade Platform shall mean the IBM BladeCenter or the Intel Blade server platform based on the common IBM/Intel blade specification".   It appears to me that Mr. Yost wants to make blade.org sound open, yet it really is exclusive to IBM's blade form factor.

During the discussion I tried to be very frank about HP's position on standards.  We think they are great for enabling interoperability.  The key for blades systems is that they interoperate with data center standards such as Ethernet, Fibre Channel and 19 inch racks.  Our take is that standardizing form factors at the component or motherboard level will limit innovation.  The fact of the matter is that the form factors in our industry that are the most standardized are also the places with the least innovation and the least growth.  Innovation is good for customers and growth is good for vendors - everyone wins.

Now that is not to say that HP believes we can do it all ourselves.  This is why we have the Solution Builder program with over 300 partners - so customers can get the complete solutions they want.  We're just not going to pretend that Solution Builder is something it is not.

I'll post the link to the panel discussion once it is available.

Labels: blade standards
Gary Thome | ‎08-28-2008 01:53 PM

Rob Mitchell, our moderator from Computer World has also written his own blog.  For his take, check out:


Anonymous | ‎08-29-2008 06:54 AM

Gary - Thanks again for representing BladeSystem during the panel.  For anyone wanting to listen to the replay of the panel, you can find it here:


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