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NEC Intros Fault-Tolerant Server to U.S.

NEC Computers Inc. this week introduced its fault-tolerant server running Windows 2000 Advanced Server to the U.S. market.

NEC launched its server, which uses fault-tolerant silicon from its technology partner Stratus Technologies along with 800 MHz Pentium III processors, in Japan in late spring.

Stratus introduced its ftServer 5200, which uses Pentium III Xeon processors, about the same time. Stratus also recently launched what it calls the ftServer 3200, which is a rebranded version of NEC's machine.

NEC calls its server the NEC Express5800/ft320La. Like their Stratus cousins, the servers run processor-memory modules in parallel on the same tasks so that if one module fails the other continues its work without interruption. Therefore a system with one logical processor actually carries two processors inside.

The NEC systems will start at $19,997. Entry price for the Stratus ftServer 3200 is lower at $18,443, but -- unlike the NEC system -- the price does not include the operating system.

Mike Mitsch, director of enterprise computing for NEC Computers Inc., says NEC and Stratus are working closely and won't step on each other's toes in the U.S. market.

"We're taking the approach of an upstep from the PC server arena," Mitsch says. "Our target market is to go more into the traditional Intel Architecture server space."

Mitsch characterizes Stratus' approach is selling more to financial institutions and into data-centers that previously would have considered customized Unix solutions, the types of organizations who traditionally bought the Unix and proprietary fault-tolerant systems Stratus has sold for years.

NEC will market its systems to remote organizations -- such as retail -- medium businesses and departments of enterprises, Mitsch says.

Other differences between the NEC and Stratus approaches appear in the service model and the channel. NEC will sell customers its existing SNMP-based server management software with fault-tolerant enhancements to allow customers to manage the systems themselves. The Stratus focus is on selling contracts in which Stratus monitors and manages the servers remotely as a service. NEC's service offerings, consequently, have a lower entry price.

NEC plans to sell the servers entirely through an indirect sales channel in the United States, where Stratus uses a mixture of direct sales and channel sales.

About the Author

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

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