Compaq's Wildfire beginning to burn

Compaq officials have circulated an internal memo lauding a successful benchmark test of the company's next generation AlphaServer, code named Wildfire, emphasizing how Compaq's high-end server strategy is continuing to take shape.

As previously reported, the Wildfire servers will share a common component and system management architecture with Compaq's Intel-based ProLiant servers and will be targeted at shoring up the company's ability to offer high-end, data center solutions.

If the first application scalability tests on the Wildfire systems reported in the memo are any indication, the company may have taken a big step in that direction.

The test, the memo states, was conducted using a prototype of a fully populated 16-way AlphaServer running OpenVMS 7.2-1H1, 4.2 terabytes of switched fiber storage, Kingston SCL's Jupiter Series 1 billing software, and a business model defined by France Telecom.

The result, according to the memo, was a more than 300 percent increase in transaction throughput when compared to similarly configured existing AlphaServer systems.

Compaq will share the test results as well as "additional proof points" of the servers' performance with customers at this week's Telecom'99 show in Geneva, hoping to demonstrate that the company is one step closer to becoming, as one Compaq executive quoted in the memo said, "the de facto industry standard for telecommunications solutions."

In the immediate future, Compaq's Wildfire success, when combined with the elimination of their NT on Alpha development team and the recent revelation that the company has canceled its port of Tru64 Unix to Intel's IA-64 architecture, could signal a solidification of the company's high-end server strategy around the Alpha platform.

That, according to Rob Enderle, a vice president at Giga Information Group, in San Jose, Calif., will be an important competitive factor for Compaq, which has been unable to settle on a single message in recent years -- a fact that Enderle sees as a weakness.

"The problem is it's been the statement of moment from them and people tend to go to vendors with more consistent message," Enderle said. "I guess the thought is that if they strengthen the Alpha platform around Unix and Linux they will be able to move better against Sun."

Compaq Computer Corp., in Houston, is at www.compaq.com.

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