HP will resell Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) from Emulex across its entire family of blade servers, it announced today.

As users adopt the smaller form factor servers, they are increasingly interested in attaching their blades to SANs, according to both firms.

Emulex already has a similar HBA agreement with IBM for its eServer BladeCenter servers. Given that today's blade market is largely a two-horse race between Big Blue and HP, with Monday's deal under its belt Emulex is well positioned with a foot in both camps.

The deal with HP is a non-exclusive OEM agreement. HP already resells HBAs from Emulex rival QLogic with its blades, according to Steve Gillaspy, group manager for HP BladeSystem product marketing. "There's a very strong customer demand for the Emulex Fibre Channel HBA across our blades," he said.

The Emulex-based Fibre Channel HBA for HP BladeSystem, which uses a version of the storage company's sixth-generation 2Gbit/s Thor input/output controller, is available now and can be used with both Linux and Windows.

As part of the deal, HP will fully integrate Emulex's HBAnywhere HBA management tools suite into its Systems Insight Manager (SIM) software. HP first rolled out SIM in 2003, but in February announced the software would combine both server and storage management. More efficiently managing systems is where blade users will likely realise true cost savings, according to Gillaspy.

So far, HP customers aren't talking about interoperability between different vendors' blades, but about the company making sure the small form factor servers "work seamlessly in the data center," Gillaspy said.

Last month, Emulex signed its first ever OEM deal with Sun for its HBAs, a move also driven by user pressure.