Amid much chest-beating and back-slapping, Hewlett-Packard last week drastically enhanced the provision of Internet-based applications to customers by unveiling its HP 9000 N-Class Enterprise Server.
The machine, which will be released next month, offers some of the best performance specifications for Web-based transaction applications for any server at any price, HP officials claimed. It will also let customers upgrade to future IA-64 processors, which HP has worked with Intel to design, by simply replacing the motherboard.
Speaking to ARN last week, Norry McAllister, HP's general manager, Enterprise Accounts Organisation, said the vendor is currently holding talks with Tech Pacific to determine a distribution strategy for the product.
Plans are also afoot to build a channel program that will allow at least 20 VARs to bundle application solutions with sales of the Enterprise server.
"We are talking about a fast-moving product here," McAllister claimed.
He reacted to claims that the N-Class server's steep price, which starts from over $100,000, and a reluctance to migrate to a 64-bit architecture, would cause customers to balk at volume purchases. "Pricing should be viewed as relative to the potential this N-Class server can offer both customers and resellers," McAllister said.
"Compared to alternative offerings from the likes of Sun it would be hard to find an equivalent product that's anywhere near as competitively priced for the processing speed offered.
"If customers are after bang for their buck but don't want to migrate to 64-bit that's fine.
"However, this 64-bit server allows customers to run a 32-bit environment for a price that is cheaper than the cost of 32-bit machines."
The N-Class Enterprise server features up to eight HP 64-bit PA-8500 processors and the 64-bit HP-UX operating system, while the machine can handle either 360MHz or 440MHz PA-8500 chips; up to 16GB of memory; a 7.6GBps memory bus; a 3.8GBps system bus; and two internal hot-swap disk bays.
To upgrade to future IA-64 chips, resellers can remove the PA-RISC motherboard and associated bus converter and plug in the IA-64 chips, officials said.
HP is also offering a range of built-in management software for the machine, including a fault-detection system and tools that can monitor performance via the Web.