HP has formed a new division within its Enterprise Storage and Servers Group to concentrate its blade development efforts.

The HP BladeSystem division will be headed by Rick Becker, a former Compaq employee who previously served as VP of operating system marketing for the Industry Standard Server Group.

Becker will co-ordinate the blade-related activities of approximately 1,000 HP employees, taken from HP's services, Industry Standard Servers, Open View and HP Labs divisions. He will report to Scott Stallard, senior VP of HP Enterprise Storage and Servers Group.

The division is chartered with "bringing together all of the components that make up a comprehensive blade infrastructure," said an HP spokeswoman. HP expects blade systems to bring in $500 million in revenue during its 2005 fiscal year.

Becker's group will head up the development of server, storage, networking and management software technologies for HP's blade systems. Another goal is to create a common chassis for HP's blade systems, Becker said. HP has two separate chassis designs for its blade servers, as well as a third for its blade PC systems.

The BladeSystem division's first order of business was to announce two new services to help customers with the installation of blade systems, as well as an update to the HP Systems Insight Manager software, designed to simplify the management of blades.

The new 4.2 version of Systems Insight Manager will include software based on the Radia technology that HP acquired in its February purchase of Novadigm. "This pack enables known software vulnerabilities to be automatically identified across my blade server infrastructure," Becker said.

The new services include an installation service, where HP professionals will help customers get a pilot HP blade system up and running at a cost of $1,600 for a single-day session. Customers who want HP's services to get production systems up and running will pay an hourly rate, HP said.

New blade customers may prove to be a fertile market for HP's service offerings, as users continue to complain of headaches managing and configuring blade software - especially in heterogeneous environments.