Dell on Monday will announce a software partnership with Inktomi that effectively turns a pair of Dell servers into caching appliances.
Dell will make Inktomi's Traffic Server Engine software available on its PowerEdge 1550 and PowerEdge 2550 servers. Like most server appliances, the new caching products from Dell are designed to handle and process specific tasks efficiently while requiring minimal maintenance from a technician.
Companies can use a caching appliance to store and serve up content more quickly by placing a caching product on the edge of a network, thus boosting the speed at which the information arrives to the end user. Companies also can use a caching appliance to reduce some of the processing load on their servers and lower bandwidth costs.
The hardware maker will begin selling the products immediately under the PowerApp cache-Inktomi Edition appliance server label. The 1U (1.75 inches) 1550-based appliance is priced starting at US$4,500, and pricing for the 2U(3.5 inches) 2550-based product begins at $8,500. Dell will also include its OpenManage Kick-Start Utility software tool, which helps users configure network settings over any computer with a Java-enabled browser, according to a company statement.
Dell rival Hewlett-Packard announced a similar deal with Inktomi in April. HP, however, added some of Inktomi's streaming software in addition to the caching applications. With Inktomi's software sitting on similar hardware from a number of vendors, it may be difficult for companies such as HP and Dell to show users the distinguishing characteristics of their products.
One analyst looks for hardware vendors to draw on the service side of their business as the key differentiator.
"It is not just about the hardware sale in all cases," said Steve Josselyn, research director at International Data Corp. (IDC). "Ultimately, it is about having the product there and then looking to provide services and support around these products as well."