Blade server vendors are discussing some form of common format, according to Fujitsu Siemens' European Marketing manager Bernhard Brandwitte. This is despite denials in the past year from several of the leading vendors that they were discussing, or would be likely to discuss any such thing.

Brandwitte said that he could "confirm that the main blade vendors are currently talking to each other about finding smart ways of standardisation for the blade ecosystem". He said that they had been talking about it for between 12 and 18 months.

He was unable to say any more - such as to whom FSC, which is party to these talks, is speaking - but he did discuss the two main rivals for leadership of the blade server market: HP and IBM. Attempts to persuade either HP or IBM to make a statement came to naught.

A proprietary blade format is a key weapon in the vendor's armoury. Currently, they sell the chassis at a relatively low price, confident that the profit can be clawed back on the servers and other items that enterprises need to buy to slot into the box. It's a business model akin to that deployed by printer manufacturers.

But, as market leaders, IBM and HP would presumably be reluctant to collaborate for fear of losing their top dog status. And HP argued when asked a few weeks back that it would cause confusion and finger-pointing if different makers' blades could be mixed and matched in a common chassis.

On the other hand, Sun and Dell, both of which are looking to make deeper inroads into this lucrative, fast-growing market, as is FSC, would presumably be more amenable to such a move. They have less to lose, and it gives them a differentiator. Sun in particular already co-operates with FSC on a technical level, so it would seem to be the most likely candidate for such an agreement.