HP Embraces Telecom With New Blade Server

HP has expanded its BladeSystem product line — popular among enterprise customers — with a carrier-grade version.

The platform is “optimized” for the heavy-duty requirements of telecom service providers and network equipment vendors, the company said. The BladeSystem Carrier-Grade Platform is intended for wired and wireless telecom service providers.

Being Responsive

Blade servers are the preferred platform for carriers, due to their small size and ability to be put on their side, said James Staten, an analyst at Forrester Research. This product represents HP’s desire to encroach on market share held by carrier server shipment leaders such as Sun Microsystems and IBM.

“HP is being responsive to carrier demands. They want blade servers of a compact size with all the features offered by the BladeSystem. For HP, getting blade servers to carriers has historically been a low priority. They want to take away market share from Sun and IBM, who have been strongest in blade server shipments to carriers,” Staten told TechNewsWorld.

Platform giant HP is the market’s leader in blade server sales, with 42.1 percent of the worldwide market, measured by revenue, according to research firm IDC.

In the third quarter of this year, the company’s blade server revenue grew 79.6 percent year over year, according to IDC.

‘On the Fly’

The new servers can be deployed for a range of enterprise applications in carriers’ IT data centers, including for network management and service assurance, billing, revenue assurance, customer care, business intelligence and fraud management.

The server ships with key features in its commercial iterations. These include single chassis for telecom and enterprise infrastructures, and support in the enclosure for up to 16 server blades. In addition, the systems 2P server blade combines dual-core Intel Xeon series processors, greater memory capacity, hot-plug SAS (Serial Attached SCSI, or small computer system interface) drives, simultaneous support of multiple I/O (input/output) cards and improved remote management.

The company’s Virtual Connect architecture, available for Ethernet or Fibre Channel networks, makes connections to local-area network and storage-area networks an easy task — administrators only have to to wire them once, and then they can add, replace and recover server resources “on the fly,” said HP.

NEBS Compliance

Features specific to telecom companies include NEBS (network equipment building system) Level 3 track certification. That’s the telecom industry standard that ensures hardware platforms provide high reliability regardless of temperature, humidity, fire, earthquake resistance (with seismic rack), handling, airborne contaminants and acoustics; a NEBS-compliant power supply of 36 volt to 72 volt direct current; and three-year product sales support, which exceeds the usual 18 months for commercial IT servers.

NEBS compliance is essential to carriers, and has become a requirement by many larger telecom providers, said Staten. “NEBS certifies how much impact the chassis can take, as well as other things like power requirements,” he said.

Next-Generation Networking

HP’s track record in this industry — going back 30 years — and its new BladeSystem “demonstrates the value of our experience in both telecom and IT,” said Sebastiano Tevarotto, vice president and general manager of communications, media and entertainment at HP.

Carriers have seen advantages in sticking with a single server family, with a dual role supporting telephony and their own IT needs, according to Lee Doyle, group vice president of network infrastructure and security product at IDC.

Moving into next-generation networking, telecom service providers can deploy the upcoming BladeSystem platform on IP-based networks. HP provides several examples, including parts of Intelligent Networks, Internet Multi-Media Subsystem (IMS), service delivery platforms, security systems, media servers, digital television (IPTV) platforms and messaging (SMS, or texting).

HP hasn’t forgotten to support evolving industry standards with its carrier-grade blade server. The company participates in the Carrier Grade Linux forum, and, with HP’s Telco Extensions, the server supports Red Hat RHEL 5.x and Debian GNU/Linux. The extensions are HP’s carrier-grade Linux. HP will also support other Linux distributions on a case-by-case basis, the company said.

HP is a founding member in the OpenSAF (Service Availability Forum) Foundation. The organization’s specification is met by HP’s embedded OpenHPI (hardware platform interface) technology. What’s more, the company announced the availability of an OpenHPI plug-in for the carrier-grade servers.

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