IBM last week released server blades for retail data centers that will help them consolidate their operations and operate more efficiently.The Systems Solution for Retail Stores uses the IBM BladeCenter servers. It can be combined with IBM's Store Integration Framework for retail stores, which provides middleware software. It can also be used with Symbol Technologies' WS5120 wireless switch to provide wireless availability.The BladeCenters, which run Linux and Windows, will now support IBM's 4690 point-of-sale operating system.IBM also claims that its blades can be used in video surveillance - a blade can manage as many as 48 cameras.According to IBM, more than 100 retailers use BladeCenter servers in 1,200 retail stores. For instance, Hudson's Bay Company department stores in Canada consolidated 300 servers down to 20 blades contained in two racks. Hudson's blades run VMware's virtualization software to provide 130 virtual servers.The BladeCenters follow servers that IBM has specifically offered to banking and small and midsize-businesses. It costs a store about $15,000 to $25,000 to implement IBM's Blade Center Systems Solution.Charles King, senior analyst for Pund-IT Research is impressed by IBM's offering."IBM's new BladeCenter systems help level the playing field by giving retailers of all sizes equal access to powerful IT solutions," says King in a research note. "That said, we must note that IBM does not stand alone in this new venture. Competitors including HP also have their sights set on the retail marketplace."The offering is available now and the release coincides with the National Retail Federation's annual meeting.From the mailbag and corrections bucket: In a newsletter titled "Linux Networx zooms into supercomputing," it should have said that the LS Series is AMD Opteron-, not Athlon-based. The archived newsletter has been corrected.