IBM Offers a Blade Just For Retailers

Vendor tweaks BladeCenter S for easy hook-up to retail store technologies.

January 14, 2008

Judy Mottl

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IBM takes another big step today in its quest to build client-centered infrastructures, this time pushing out a custom-designed blade offering for the retail business sector.

The vendor has fastened its IBM Store Integration Framework certification to its BladeCenter S offering, allowing retailers to plug in over 75 retail business applications that run the gamut from self-scanning technology to store surveillance, digital signage capabilities and workforce management tools.

IBM launched the BladeCenter S last June. In October the vendor tacked on a Office Ready Kit which tweaked the chassis for expansion from a 7U unit to 11U, added a noise attenuator and improved air filtering capabilities for quiet operation.

The retail-focused blade is the latest development in IBM's client strategy to provide specialized solutions for niche industries. IBM has already pushed out specialty systems for telcos, high-performance computing settings and the SMB enterprise.

"The retail environment has unique needs and what we’ve done is provided an all-in-one data center that provides greater capabilities and also helps solve inherent issues that come into play in the retail environment," Alex Yost, vice president of IBM's BladeCenter, told

. The offering also supports a slew of Oracle retail applications as well. The integrated platform's smaller footprint and enhanced filtering capabilities solve some unique computing issues found in most store environments, added Yost.

It also boasts an a few improved security features. One is locking-door element to prevent unauthorized tinkering by employees and other unauthorized users, and the other is the Smart Surveillance System, which integrates data from monitoring devices, such as video cams and radar, aimed at reducing overall security costs.

The capability to easily plug in such technology pieces will prove attractive to retail tech teams that often have to deal with disparate appliances and hardware pieces to make all necessary systems operate, says one industry watcher.

"They're creating a turn-key solutions that helps IT avoid having to do all that front end work of hooking up the technologies, making things easy to install and avoid any dorking with the network," said Joe Clabby, president of Clabby Analytics.

While IBM was silent on which niche industry it will target next, Clabby predicts it will be a financial segment, possibly the banking market niche, given the similar technology issues that segment faces today.

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