Vendors offer slim servers for space-challenged users

Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. last week all debuted thin server, 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.

Among the attractions for server appliances, also called server appliances, are low price (an average of US$1,600) and quick installation to handle unexpected network usage spikes, says John Dunkle, president of Workgroup Strategic Services. He says firms 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.

Sun's new offerings include the Sun Cobalt CacheRaQ 4, an appliance based on technology obtained through its acquisition of thin-server vendor Cobalt last year. This system, powered by a 450-MHz Intel-compatible processor, is designed to store copies of recently requested documents locally so Web site visitors can access information more quickly. Setup and administration are browser-based. The CacheRaQ 4 server, which will be available in February, costs $1,800 with 128M bytes of RAM and a 20G-byte hard drive, and $2,500 with 512M bytes of RAM and a 30G-byte drive.

Sun also aired a more robust Web server, the Sun Cobalt RaQ XTR, which runs Linux and the Apache Web server. It features 733- or 933-MHz processors, up to four removable hard disk drives, up to 2G bytes of memory, and RAID 0, 1 or 5 software to help ensure site and data availability in the event of disk failure. The server, which comes preconfigured with 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer support and Secure Shell for secure telnet connections, starts at $4,800.

Sun also unveiled the Netra X1 server, which starts at $995, giving Sun a portfolio of servers that range in price from just under $1,000 to more than $1 million. Sun says the Solaris-based Netra X1, which can be used to run e-mail, firewalls, voice-over-IP gateways or other applications, is an alternative to low-end Wintel machines. It runs on an UltraSparc IIe 400-MHz processor and boasts from 128M bytes to 1G byte of memory.

HP introduced the LP 1000r and 2000r -- servers for data centers where real estate is at a premium and for companies that have Web infrastructures that rely on application servers.

The LP 1000r is a dense, 1.75-inch-high server powered by two 1-GHz Pentium III processors and has a 133-MHz front-side bus and up to 4G bytes of memory. It contains a dual-channel Ultra3 SCSI controller, three hard drives and two 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet adapters.

The LP 2000r is twice as high, has more expansion slots and supports Microsoft Cluster Server for fault tolerance and fail-over processing. It has optional hot-swappable redundant power supplies and up to six hot-swappable hard disks.

Both servers run Windows NT and 2000, Linux and Unix, and feature a remote management card. The LP 1000r costs $5,000. Pricing for the LP 2000r is not yet available.

Compaq's latest offering is the ProLiant DL320, which features an 800-MHz Pentium III processor, up to 128M bytes of memory, two Fast Ethernet cards and two expansion slots. The DL320, which takes up a single rack space, costs about $2,500.

Sun: www.sun.com; Compaq: www.compaq.com/products/servers/proliant; HP: http://welcome.hp.com/country/us/eng/prodserv.htm

This story, "Vendors offer slim servers for space-challenged users" was originally published by Network World.

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