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Ideal Hardware today announces the signing of a strategic alliance with premier manufacturer Hewlett Packard (HP) as part of its drive into the enterprise storage market. The agreement sees Ideal add HP’s enterprise data storage range to its portfolio and follows the formation of Ideal’s new Enterprise Storage Group (ESG).

The HP portfolio will now include the HP SureStore Tape Autoloader and Tape Library range, targeted at SMEs moving into automation, and larger enterprises needing large scale unattended backup management in remote offices. This range incorporates both DLT and the new LTO-Ultrium technologies, the latter taking advantage of a data transfer rate of 15MB/S using tapes with a compressed capacity of 200MB. HP’s Brocade fibre channel switches provides the backbone for a scalable, resilient storage area network. The HP SureStore E Disk Array FC60 storage unit combines the best of fibre channel speed, RAID protection and multi-drive capacity providing 4.4 terabytes of data storage.

Gary Gray, Ideal’s enterprise storage product manager, comments: "Ideal’s Enterprise Solutions Group will help the reseller community drive HP storage solutions into end-user markets, with particular focus within the NT environment. Ideal shares HP’s view that the recording of data and the subsequent backup of that information are central to a fully integrated IT strategy. The alliance with HP positions both parties to deliver a comprehensive array of hardware and software solutions to its customers."

Nick Shuttleworth, HP’s UK storage channel manager, comments: "Storage is one of the top four strategic business areas HP is currently investing in. We anticipate that NT consolidation projects will represent a major growth opportunity for storage solutions over the next 12 to 18 months. With this in mind, Ideal’s excellent reputation and formidable capability to add value to the reseller community made it a natural choice as a HP storage partner instrumental to our future success."

Gary Gray concludes: "Ideal will also be working with HP’s software partners including Veritas, Legato and Computer Associates, in order to provide a complete value-added enterprise solution to its resellers."

For further information please contact:

Gary Gray

Ideal Hardware

020 8286 5344

Mellissa Dorrell

Ideal Press Office

020 7375 3633

Editor’s Notes

Ideal Hardware Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of US based Bell Microproducts Inc., is a leading UK based value-added, storage-centric distributor focusing on the high end of the storage market. Ideal is also a leading distributor of Compaq servers, PCs and storage products and is one of only 12 Compaq distributors worldwide to be awarded the prestigious CIP accreditation for high-end products. Ideal has strategic relationships with approximately 80 suppliers of enterprise storage, computer systems, software and media products. These strategic products are packaged with Ideal’s value-added programmes and services to provide complete NAS, SAS and SAN solutions.

Note: This release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements, which reflect the Company's current views of future events and financial performance, involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or facts to differ materially from such statements for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to: the ability to successfully integrate the operations of recent acquisitions, industry conditions, changes in product supply, pricing, and customer demand, competition, other vagaries in the computer and electronic components markets, changes in relationships with key suppliers, foreign currency fluctuations and the other risks and information described from time to time in the company's reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Current Reports on Form 8-K regardi!
ng this and other transactions). Investors should take such risks into account when making investment decisions. Shareholders and other readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. The company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements.

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