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Start-up brings blade software to PCs

Workstation upstart ClearCube unveils two new applications that bring some of the advantages of blade computing, such as easier management, to ordinary PCs.

Workstation start-up ClearCube has come out with two new applications that bring some of the advantages of blade computing to ordinary PCs.

The two applications, called Data Failover with PeerSync and Move Manager, are essentially modifications of management tools that the company sells with its bladed workstations. Blades are superskinny computers that are housed vertically in a rack, rather than on a desk or on the floor of a server room.

While blades reduce the amount of expensive real estate that companies have to dedicate to computers, the true benefit is easier management. Because hundreds of computers are stored in a 6-foot-high rack and connected to each other through short, high-speed pipes, information technology administrators can load software or fix glitches without moving much.

"You no longer have to have an IT guy running around moving PCs," said Ken Knotts, director of marketing at ClearCube. The company claims its blade systems can pay for themselves in nine months to a year due to reduced IT overhead and a more rapid recovery from crashes.

The new software packages are targeted at companies that are experimenting with blades but would like to get some of the functionality without performing a complete desktop upgrade.

The Data Failover application is largely aimed at the problem of data backup. Virtually every major corporation has policies for backing up desktop data, but they are only haphazardly applied.

The application automates the process. Once loaded onto a given desktop, Data Failover backs up data and user profiles automatically on a regular basis. The backup data is stored on the unused portions of other PCs on the network. In the event of a crash, an individual's data can be extracted from the PCs with the backup data.

Move Manager, meanwhile, is targeted at cutting the costs of moving employees from one office or location to another by eliminating the need to transport a PC. The application captures a person's entire desktop, including the operating system and the applications, and compresses it into a file on the server. The compressed file is then transferred to a new desktop.

"Financial services companies are looking to move people independent of the data centers," Knotts said, adding that one of the company's customers has found that it moves its employees, on average, 1.6 times per year.

ClearCube is largely focused on selling hardware to government offices, financial institutions and the health care industry. Customers include the North American Aerospace Defense Command.