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Dell Rolls Out Appliance Servers

Dell Computer Corp. waded into the appliance server business today with the introduction of its PowerApp line of Web servers and Internet caching servers.

One of the four appliance servers Dell (www.dell.com) unveiled runs on Windows 2000 software optimized for Web serving. Dell discussed the appliance server lines today as part of a larger announcement about its Internet infrastructure strategy.

The announcement comes less than a week after IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com) introduced the first in its own planned line of appliance servers, which also run a specially tuned Windows 2000 operating system.

Market research firm IDC (www.idc.com) has identified the appliance server market as a hot one for server vendors. IDC estimates the appliance server market will grow from less than $1 billion in revenues in 1998 to $11 billion in revenues by 2004. The Web server segment of that market will grow at an even faster rate, IDC predicts.

"The market for the Web server is by far the largest [among appliance server markets] when you look at Internet infrastructure," says Gene Austin, vice president and general manager for Internet server products in Dell’s Enterprise Systems Group. "Companies are deploying Web sites internally and Web sites externally at a rapid rate."

The pre-configured Web servers solve several problems, they allow users to bring new servers online in a Web environment in a few minutes, and reduce the knowledge required to set up those servers, according to Austin.

"Today there are general purpose servers being configured to do nothing but serve Web site pages. Those are probably overkill," he says.

Dell and IBM are taking slightly different approaches in that regard. Users will be able to upgrade the IBM’s Netfinity A100 Web server appliance when faster processors hit the market or to add a second processor. Dell is sealing its PowerApp.web 100.

The PowerApp.web 100 is Dell’s slimmest Web server yet at 1U. The Windows version runs Windows 2000 Server with Network Load Balancing and Internet Information Services 5.0 enabled.

Dell will also sell a version of the PowerApp.web 100 running Red Hat Linux version 6.2 with Apache. Two Internet caching servers, dubbed the PowerApp.cache 100 and PowerApp.cache 200 (a 2U version), run Internet Caching System software from Novell Inc. (www.novell.com).

Dell will begin delivering the appliance servers in May. Dell also prepared a suite of setup and administration software for the servers.

A deal with F5 Networks Inc. (www.f5.com) also announced today will result in a Dell-branded bundle of F5’s high availability, load balancing and content management software starting in the fall.

Dell has not yet deployed the caching or Web serving appliances on its bread-and-butter Dell.com site, but the company will do so within the next month, Austin says.

Meanwhile, for future server appliance offerings, Dell is eyeing network security servers for mid-sized companies and e-mail engine servers, Austin says. – Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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