Open specs add options for BladeCenter customers

Open specs add options for BladeCenter customers

In the three months since IBM and Intel opened design specifications for Big Blue's BladeCenter, more than 100 vendors have signed up to use the information, meaning that end users will soon have access to network switches, adapter cards and other products designed especially for IBM's blade servers.

In September, IBM opened design specifications for the blades that it co-developed with Intel in an effort to accelerate the adoption of its servers in the fast-growing blade market. IBM is the leading blade server vendor, with 44 percent market share, according to IDC.

"The rationale of opening the specification had to do with helping to develop the ecosystem around the blade... and to give our customers more choice in terms of solutions and development options," says Tim Dougherty, director of IBM eServer BladeCenter marketing.

"Blades have graduated out of the special niche that they started in and are being more widely deployed through the infrastructure, which drives the need for a lot more connectivity and other solutions," he says.

IBM recognized this and earlier this year integrated Brocade Communications Systems and Cisco Systems switches into BladeCenter, enabling blades to hook directly into existing infrastructure. Other vendors in many cases require pass-through connections to hook into external switches.

The process of integrating third-party products into BladeCenter was a lengthy one, however, because access to design specifications was restricted and subject to licensing fees. By opening the specifications, IBM provides free access as well as design assistance, greatly accelerating the process, Dougherty says.

Companies that have received the open specifications include Emulex., which expects to roll out a BladeCenter compatible Fibre Channel host bus adapter in the first quarter of next year.

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