HP Launches Low-Cost SMB Micro-Server Push

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Hewlett-Packard takes on Dell, with a tiny cheap server aimed at small businesses

Hewlett-Packard is today launching an effort to win small-to-medium sized businesses, a micro-server designed to operate in normal office space, and a new slogan: “Just Right IT”.

The new campaign will put HP up against Dell and other vendors, as it enters a market it has not addressed particularly before, and will be sold through partners as well as directly to customers. The micro-server is one of HP’s ProLiants, normally rack- or blade-mounted, redesigned to operate quietly in an office, and starting at €265 (£218) for an entry-level model [Updated, from €269 in earlier versions of this story – Editor].

Just Right IT?

Analyst AMI Partners reckons that around 1.7 million small businesses will buy their first server in the next five years, and the ProLiant micro-server is designed for offices with ten people or less.

“There is a £90 billion available market, and forty percent of that is in EMEA,” said Wolfgang Wittmer, HP general manager for enterprise kit in EMEA, adding that in his opinion, HP is the only company able to deal with this need end-to-end. “A single supplier will eliminate finger pointing,” he said.

The ProLiant micro-server is about half the size and half the noise of comparable entry level servers, while using 150W less energy, HP claims. While rackmount servers can be designed to make as much noise as they like, in a server-room, an office server has to be quiet, said Wittmer.

The new server can be pre-loaded with Microsoft software, and integrated with office networking using HP’s wired and wireless switches – and of course customers will be offered one of HP’s major money spinners, printers, in this case the OfficeJet Pro 8500A all-in-one web-connected device.

The micro-server might seem out-of-step with current predictions that IT will move wholesale to the cloud, but Wittmer disagreed: “Ninety-five percent of SMBs prefer to have a server on site. This may change over time, and we will integrate with the cloud.”

Tiny businesses will only need the micro-server, but those higher up the SMB scale will be offered storage area networking (SAN) and integrated support for Microsoft’s Hyper-V for virtual servers. As well as the micro-server, HP is also launching a storage array, the StorageWorks P2000 G3 Modular Smart Array, which connects by 10Gb Ethernet / iSCS.

HP recently lost its chairman Mark Hurd, and is currently suing him over his subsequent appointment at Oracle.