HP last week launched a switch that works with its BladeSystem PCs and software that manages the assignment of connections between users and the Microsoft Remote Desktop session running on a PC blade.The HP BladeSystem PC Blade Switch is a Layer 2 switch that includes security and management features for Fast Ethernet, edge client connectivity and wiring closet deployments. It aggregates the signals of all 20 Blade PCs in an HP BladeSystem PC Blade enclosure. The Blade Switch is preconfigured and optimized to work with HP BladeSystem PCs and enables a 98% cable reduction in the back of the BladeSystem enclosure.The Blade Switch has four fiber-optic Ethernet uplinks and enables switching capacities of as much as 12.8Gbps. It supports virtual LANs, Spanning Tree Protocols, link aggregation and trunking, QoS and multicasting.The Blade Layer 2 switch can be managed from a Web-based interface, from the command line or via SNMP. HP's Systems Insight Manager can also manage the switch.The switch supports Media Access Control (MAC), layer port security and Access Control Lists, as well as SSL and Secure Shell encryption, RADIUS and TACACS+ support.In addition, the PC Blade Switch allows the network administrator to create as many as 256 VLANS. The switch also supports port mirroring, dynamic link aggregation, the Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) and IP multicast.The switch support 42 10\/100BASE-T and 4 RJ-45 10\/100\/1000BASE-T ports, as well as four SFP ports for fiber-optic media. While pricing is still being finalized, the PC Blade Switch is expected to be available in June for a similar price to the current PC Blade Switch, which is $2,736.The Session Allocation Manager (SAM) software makes PC blade sessions available to users and enables the management from a single console of BladeSystem sessions. It works with Microsoft's Active Directory to authenticate users and connect them to the appropriate resource.When the SAM blade service is installed, the blade PC will automatically register with the SAM database and be assigned to a user group or organizational unit. Here, users can be assigned to their appropriate identities - applications, operating system and configuration settings - with the HP Rapid Deployment Pack.Before assigning resources to users, SAM determines whether users still have desktop session running. If so, SAM reconnects the user to the same session. If not, SAM establishes a session and links users with their resources.The SAM console runs on most Windows-based servers and can be installed on one or more Web servers for failover purposes.