December 08, 2000, 2:05 PM — Dell Computer Corp. plans to make another big move into the Internet appliance
server market Tuesday by launching a PowerApp Big-IP server line that uses F5
Networks's Linux-based load-balancing software. The Dell systems are front-end
solutions intended to parcel out a Website's user requests and send them to appropriate
systems on a Web server farm.
Dell's Karl Chen described PowerApp Big-IP's target market as the Internet traffic
and content management space. Chen, director of product marketing for Dell's Internet
Server Products Group, said its main competition will be load-balancing alternatives
supported by router-switch makers such as Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks (which
recently said it would purchase player Alteon WebSystems), and Foundry Networks.
Chen said Dell's F5-based offering differs from the others "because it uses software
to provide load-balancing."
"Switching manufacturers support load balancing in hardware, using ASIC 'Application
Specific Integrated Circuit'-based means," said Chen. "They need to respin the hardware
to update 'their load-balancing algorithms'."
"The software approach is more scalable as you build bigger Web farms," he
said. "You can just add appliances, as opposed to adding and reconfiguring switches in
The new Dell server comes preconfigured and contains F5 Networks's Big-IP Controller
software for managing Internet content and traffic. The software can provide
intelligent load balancing across Web server farms - it routes incoming requests to
servers that can best respond, thus eliminating single points of failure when accessing
data from Websites.
As faster processors come on line, the Internet content management sector could
support more software-based load-balancing alternatives. The overall worldwide
appliance server market is expected to reach more than 2 million units by 2003,
representing revenue of about $7.9 billion, according to IDC.
Includes reporting by Christie Vincent, ITworld.com