IBM and Intel have signed up over 100 vendors to their BladeCenter design spec since it was opened up just three months ago, the two companies have proudly announced.

It should mean end users will soon have access to network switches, adapter cards and other products designed especially for IBM’s blade servers.

IBM opened design specs for the blades it co-developed with Intel in September, hoping to accelerate their adoption in the fast-growing blade market. It has helped IBM take the lead in the market, with 44 per cent share.

"The rationale of opening the specification had to do with helping to develop the ecosystem around the blade and to give our customers more choice in terms of solutions and development options," said Tim Dougherty, director of IBM eServer BladeCenter marketing. "Blades have graduated out of the special niche that they started in and are being more widely deployed through the infrastructure, which drives the need for a lot more connectivity and other solutions."

As a result, IBM integrated Brocade and Cisco switches into BladeCenter earlier this year, enabling blades to hook directly into existing infrastructure. Other vendors in many cases require pass-through connections to hook into external switches.

The process of integrating third-party products into BladeCenter was a lengthy one, however, because access to design specifications was restricted and subject to licensing fees. By opening the specifications, IBM provides free access as well as design assistance, greatly accelerating the process, Dougherty said.

Companies that have received the open specifications include Emulex which expects to roll out a BladeCenter-compatible Fibre Channel host bus adapter in the first quarter of next year.