January 25, 2001, 10:09 AM — VA Linux Systems Inc. joined the swelling ranks of vendors jumping into the thin-server appliance market with a single-processor server aimed at users with Web and e-commerce sites.
The VA Linux 1120 server is priced under $1,200, takes up a single rack space -- making it suitable for expensive, space-constrained Internet data centers -- and comes pre-configured with VA's optimized version of the Linux operating system and a Pentium III processor at speeds of up to 1 GHz. It also features multiple IDE hard drives, and up to five Fast Ethernet ports.
For users looking for more memory and processing power, VA Linux is also shipping the 1220 server, which can support dual processors, up to two SCSI or two IDE internal hard drives, and up to 4G bytes of RAM. The server also features integrated dual 10/100 Ethernet ports and an optional Gigabit Ethernet port.
Major vendors competing in the thin and appliance server space include IBM, Compaq, HP, Sun, Dell, and Network Engines.
Sun, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq last week all debuted thin servers or server appliances aimed at filling the growing need for systems that are slim enough to fit into tight data center space and are easy to install.
John Dunkle, president of Workgroup Strategic Services, says low prices (an average of $1,600) and features that allow for quick installation to handle unexpected network usage spikes are two factors that make server appliances attractive. Dunkle says companies this year will buy almost twice as many appliance servers as they did last year, and research firm IDC estimates the market for the machines will boom from $740 million in 1999 to $15 billion by 2004.
IDC also predicts the slim server market will continue to grow. For example, in the first quarter of 2000, 14% of Intel-based servers shipped were rack-optimized. By the third quarter, 25% of shipments were designed to fit into tight spaces. Market value also jumped from $925 million in the first quarter to $1.87 billion in the third quarter.