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Intel Offers Partners Modular Server System for Small Businesses

The server system is aimed at organizations with 50 to 300 employees.
Intel on Friday launched a modular server system that its partners can use to build a low-maintenance, all-in-one product with enough computing power for a growing small business.

Designed for smaller businesses, Intel's modular server building blocks can support up to six server compute nodes and 14 serial attached SCSI 2.5" hard disk drives
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The rack-mount server with a height of 10.5 inches and a depth of 28 inches supports six server modules, each with up to 32 Gbytes of memory and up to two multicore Xeon 5000 series processors, which include quad-core and dual-core chips. In addition, the system includes virtualized shared storage with 14 hot-swap SAS hard disk drives, an integrated management module, and redundant Ethernet switches and storage controllers.

The server system is aimed at organizations with 50 to 300 employees. Those businesses could include, for example, law firms, automotive shops, and restaurants. The rack could be configured for Web hosting and for running e-mail systems and business applications.

During a San Francisco news conference, Intel executives made the standard vendor pitch these days for all-in-one systems for small and midsize businesses: ease of use, simplicity, low cost. System builders using the Intel design would compete with Hewlett-Packard's c3000 BladeSystem, dubbed "Shorty" and released in September.

The c3000 is a scaled-down version of the company's enterprise-class BladeSystem c7000. For storage in the smaller system, HP uses the StorageWorks All-in-One SB600c Storage Blade, which is also available for the c7000. The new blade provides network-attached storage, iSCSI SAN capabilities, a maximum of a 1 Tbyte of storage, and slots for three to five blades.

Helping Intel roll out its new modular system was partner and custom system builder Colfax International, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Chief executive Gautam Shah told InformationWeek that the system's Intel-developed remote management and diagnostic software was a "huge" benefit for him, because he could handle maintenance and support for his customers from a central office. "This allows us to participate in the SMB space without having 4,000 foot soldiers to blanket a country."

From that perspective, the system enables smaller system builders to sell to more distant markets. Intel pitched the new system as a product that could be sold to the many new small businesses popping up each year in developing nations.

Shah said the Intel system would be ideal for a university lab looking for its own low-cost server cluster to perform research-related numbers crunching, a task where a six-node system would be the baseline. "We think this is an ideal product to use as a personal cluster," he said. In general, hardware pricing would range from $7,000 to $32,000, with operating system and other software sold separately.

Pricing for HP's BladeSystem c3000 starts at $4,299, with the SB600c Storage Blade sold separately for a starting price of $9,968.

With the Intel system, the chipmaker provides partners with the chassis and the server modules. System builders add the hard disk drives, processors, and memory, and handle the configuration, Shah said.