updated 9/2/2004 6:29:58 PM ET 2004-09-02T22:29:58

International Business Machines Corp. said it is making the design of its “blade” computer servers widely available, in a move designed to gain wider acceptability in data centers and the telecommunications industry.

IBM said that opening the design of its blade servers --which are made up of many small safe-deposit box sized components that can be easily removed or added  -- will allow other companies more easily to make gears that work with them.

IBM’s blade servers, called Bladecenter, are designed in partnership with Intel Corp. IBM said it and Intel will not charge any royalty fees and no patent licensing will be required.

“We both agreed that we would drive significantly more innovation, a larger number of partners in the ecosystem if we open things up,” Jeff Benck, vice president of blade servers at IBM, told Reuters in an interview.

IBM and Intel will provide technical support to assist product development, including design guidelines and fee-based support.

Blade servers compete with the widely-sold rack servers, which are built with pizza-box sized components. The blade servers are seen as space-saving and easier to use than bulkier systems.

IBM has been gaining market share since it introduced blade servers in November 2002.

In the fourth quarter of 2002, IBM had 15.57 percent market share in terms of unit shipments, according to IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, while Dell had 19.05 percent and Hewlett-Packard was the leader with a 39.88 percent share. By the second quarter of 2004, IBM was the leader with 37.58 percent.

Blade servers accounted for only 3 percent of all server computers sold in 2003, or about 185,000 computers, but IDC expects them to reach to reach 29 percent of the 9.9 million total servers by 2008.

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