Server Snapshots: HP ProLiant BL 260c

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Apr 10, 2008


Drew Robb
HP certainly dominates the worldwide blade server market. Out of last year's almost $4 billion in overall blade server sales, HP accounted for about $2 billion.

HP has its eye on the midmarket. The OEM is touting its new blade on the block as the industry's most power-efficient and affordable server blade.

"HP maintained the number 1 spot in the server blade market in 4Q07 with 47.7 percent revenue share," said IDC analyst Jed Scaramella. "As the complexity and operational expenses of IT infrastructure continues to increase, a greater number of customers are turning to blade servers as a solution."

Despite this position of strength, the HP blade development train rolls on with new products being a regular occurrence. The latest is the ProLiant BL260c, and the company is touting this box as the industry's most power-efficient and affordable server blade.

"The ProLiant BL260c is priced 20 percent lower and is 64 percent more power-efficient than any other server blade," said Steve Gillaspy, group marketing manager, HP BladeSystem (Palo Alto, Calif.).

HP claims this 1U model uses no more power than a coffee pot due to built-in Thermal Logic technologies designed to increase processing power while keeping watt consumption low. The quad-core Intel chip helps, too, of course. Up to two Xeon dual-core or quad-core (5400 and 5200 sequence) processors are available for a total of up to eight cores. These are supported by 12 MB of L2 cache and up to 24GB of ECC 667MHz DDR2 memory.

Like all HP blades, these slide right into the existing HP chassis. BladeSystem enclosures can be used with the BL260c, as well as the HP Cluster Platform Workgroup System, which is used for high performance computing (HPC).

"The BL260c can fit easily into HP's existing BladeSystem c-Class enclosures, the c3000 or c7000," said Gillaspy.

Such a tiny form factor, of course, can't be expected to include much in the way of hard drive capacity. However, the BL260c can be purchased with up to two SATA drives. These come in three sizes: 120 GB, 160 GB and 250 GB.

Market Thrust

Although HP said this new blade can be used anywhere, the marketing materials are stressing the small and midsize enterprise (SME) market. HP's contention is that many midsize customers tend to shy away from implementing blades, as they don't have the level of in-house expertise to handle potential blade management complexity.

"According to an AMI-Partners study, 2007 technology spending by midsize companies surpassed that of enterprises, and the need for specially designed infrastructure for this market is still growing," said Gillaspy. "There is a great demand in the midmarket space for affordable blade solutions that can bring time, cost, change and energy savings benefits to customers' bottom lines. The HP ProLiant BL260c is the best server blade value based on the two key factors considered by midsize businesses: price and performance."

Additionally, HP is promoting this blade for the lower end of the SME space. Tiny IT shops as well as remote offices are seen by Gillaspy as big potential users of this server. As such, the company has endeavored to simplify management and deployment.

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"The BL260c is ideal for branch offices and remote sites with small and virtual machine environments," said Gillaspy.

Vendors such as Dell (Round Rock, Texas) and IBM of (Armonk, N.Y.), already play heavily in the SME segment of the market. According to HP, its new offering is more than 60 percent more power-efficient than the Dell M600, and it has a far lower price point than IBM's HS21 server blade, while providing a wider feature set.

"This server blade supports CRM, ERP and database applications as well as Web applications, scale-out high-performance computing applications, and file/print services," said Gillaspy.

To keep things simple for SMEs and broaden its range, HP has integrated the BL260c with storage technologies, such as HP's storage blades, as well as with business applications, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle Siebel CRM. Further, HP has partnered with Oracle on a series of database configurations that can run on BladeSystem. These support 75 to 400 users and are said to be easy to deploy.

OS-wise, this blade supports Windows, Linux (Red Hat and SUSE) and Solaris. HP Insight Control Environment is now available for Linux. This adds greater management capabilities as well as Linux clustering technology.

Pricing and Configurations

While HP focuses on its quad-core Xeon versions, the BL260c also supports dual-core and even single-core versions. Pricing starts at $1,199. That gets you a single core Xeon 445 processor (running at 1.86 GHz) with 1 GB RAM. For $1,549, you can upgrade to a dual-core Xeon E5205 processor (also 1.86 GHz) with 1 GB RAM. A quad-core Xeon E5430 processor running at 2.66 GHz with 2GB RAM, on the other hand, is starts at $1,969.

It would seem that you get far more bang for your quad-core buck, but more is not always necessary. Gillaspy said some customer segments continue to prefer single and dual-core versions.

"Many customers run transactional type of applications such as file/print and Web applications that do not require high processing power, performance, or the ability to scale past one to two cores," he said. "The single and dual-core processors are best suited for these types of applications which are offered at a lower price point. "

The HP ProLiant BL260c G5 Close Up

Name ProLiant BL260c The HP ProLiant BL260c G5
The HP ProLiant BL260c G5
Vendor HP
Platform x86
Dimensions 1U
Processor Details Up to two dual-core or quad-core Intel Xeon 5400 and 5200 sequence processors, and up to one Intel Desktop or Xeon uP Xeon Sequence Processor
Hard Drives Up to 2 SATA drives (120 GB, 160 GB, 250GB)
Operating Systems Windows, Linux
Configuration Options Single-core Xeon Processor 445 (1.86 GHz) with 1 GB RAMF, $1,199;
Dual-core Xeon Processor E5205 (1.86 GHz) with 1 GB RAM, $1,549;
Quad-core Xeon Processor E5430 (2.66 GHz) with 2 GB RAM, $1,969
Availability Now available
Warranty Three years

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