HP fattens midmarket server line

HP fattens midmarket server line

Hewlett-Packard has announced four entry-level servers for small and midsize companies, along with updates to its remote management software.

Hewlett-Packard has announced four entry-level servers for small and midsize companies, along with updates to its remote management software.

The servers are part of HP's ProLiant 100 series, aimed at companies with 100 to 500 employees. They are all two-processor rack-mount servers, with two 1U machines and two 2U machines. (The 1U refers to the height of the machine and is equal to 1.75 inches.)

Rack-mount servers have lost the limelight lately to trendy blade servers, sales of which are growing at a faster clip, and even HP's vice president of marketing, Paul Gottsegen, who was charged with promoting the new rack-mount servers, advised customers to look closely at blades.

"When they see the blades, customers tell us there's an advantage in cooling, in cabling, in reduced power consumption and overall density, so the rack customers typically transition to blades, it's just a matter of customers in this market becoming aware of them," he said.

Still, rack-mount servers account for a high proportion of sales despite their slower growth, and smaller companies tend to be more comfortable sticking with what they are used to, said Gordon Haff, principal IT adviser at Illuminata.

Two of the HP servers are available now. One is the DL185 G5, a 2U system designed for high-capacity jobs like mail serving and video capture. It comes with up to 14 large-form factor drives and 10.5 terabytes of storage, and runs on one or two Opteron 2200 processors from Advanced Micro Devices. Pricing starts at US$1,749.

The other machine on sale now is the DL160 G5, a 1U server that can act as a node in a high-performance computing cluster as well as a standard business server. It has two PCI-Express x16 2.0 slots and support for a faster front-side bus, and runs one or two of Intel's quad-core 5400 "Harpertown" chips. Pricing starts at US$1,399.

The other two machines won't ship for another three months, HP said. They are the DL180, a general-purpose 2U server with three PCI-E slots and up to 12 large form factor drives, and the DL 165, which will be the first rack-mount server that can hold four 3.5-inch disk drives, according to HP. Pricing for those servers was not announced.

HP has been doing well in the server market lately. In the third quarter last year it sold more machines than second-place Dell or third-place IBM, although IBM earned the most revenue, research company Gartner said.

Low-end servers are fairly commoditized and there isn't a great deal that distinguishes one vendor's hardware from another, Haff said. "Certainly, there are some differences, in areas like management software, but for the most part it's about the channels and the partners and what's offered around the server," he said.

HP announced two Lights-Out management packages for the servers. They allow users to install software remotely and monitor the health of fans, power supplies and other components. A Lights-Out 100i Advanced Pack is US$199 per license and a Select Pack is US$99. Customers must also buy a Remote Management Card for US$219.

HP also announced two updated software packages for the machines. They are Citrix Access Essentials, for remote access to applications, and Exchange Server 2007, the latest version of Microsoft's e-mail server software.

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