Dell's PowerEdge 400SC finished second in the category, while IBM's eServer landed the bronze.
The ProLiant BL20p server's reliability and ease of management make it a favorite of its corporate users. And that's saying something since blade servers haven't always been known as tools for the big enterprise.
Those days are gone, says Raymond DeCrescente, chief technology officer of the Albany, N.Y.-based The Capitol Region Orthopedic Group, a medical practice and surgery center with 200 users and about 22 servers.
''We're getting ready to take our practice into a paperless, all-digital environment,'' says DeCrescente. ''When I take on that kind of responsibility, I'm looking for a product I can rely on, a service I can rely on, an architecture I can rely. It has to offer me backup and failover, and an all-over reliable system.''
DeCrescente, who runs Windows 2000 on his front end and back end, installed nine ProLiant BL20p blade servers about four months ago. They are the application servers for the company's critical medical management systems. That system handles business applications, surgery center applications and soon will handle the Electronic Medical Records systems.
''These systems are the heartbeat of our business,'' says DeCrescente. ''I have to have a very scalable, reliable system. These servers are highly scalable at less cost. They're self-managing and self-healing. They're hot-swappable.
''We're trying to keep constant uptime for the sake of our business and our patients,'' adds DeCrescente.
The winner of this year's award is one member of HP's larger ProLiant family of blade servers. Unlike the ProLiant e-class, which is known more for its power and space efficiency, the p-class is built to give high performance and high availability to enterprise applications.
Anthony Dina, HP's worlwide business development manager for blade systems, says the BL20p, which is designed for medium and large businesses, is focused on ease of installation, remote management and energy conservation.
DeCrescente says he didn't stumble upon any surprises when he deployed his nine new servers. It was, he says, an easy installation. The only difficulties evolved around learning the new technology.
''It took us a little bit to get used to how you manage blades,'' says DeCrescente. ''It's a little different. You don't have separate servers and monitors. The networking is neater. It's all integrated... Once we acquainted ourselves with them, we wouldn't go back.''