HP releases entry-level servers

Hewlett-Packard has pinpointed Sun's number one position as its objective in the entry-level Unix server market with its new HP 9000 L-Class servers targeted at burgeon- ing e-commerce and Internet service related demand.

Tom Anderson, product manager, Internet and applications systems division for HP, said that analyst IDC has predicted 18 per cent growth in the entry-level server market and the L-Class is expected to play a major role in that.

"The World Wide Web will create huge demand for low-end servers," Anderson said of a market that is currently dominated by Sun. "We expect this product is going to dominate the low end. [Sun] advertises itself as 'putting the dot in .com', well, that dot is set to fade away with the launch of this product."

Anderson said HP's heritage in high-end servers is seeing many of the features of higher-end servers starting to be incorporated into the low-end range. He said customers in this space are also looking for "smart, simple and stress-free" features from their entry-level servers. They have similar demands for investment protection, return on investment, ease of operation and continuous performance.

"In the entry-level market, people don't want a product that needs a large IT staff," Anderson said. "What we have been able to achieve is high availability, scalability and management in solutions. The fact that we are achieving this means the product plays into the hands of the target markets."

Anderson said the L-Class servers will replace D- and R-class products at the entry level and will be available through the channel of master distributor Tech Pacific. Nancy Eranosian, a local marketing director, said that the products are also ideally suited to be sold through HP's online initiative which allows customers to deal direct with third-party fulfilment.

As with all products aimed at entry-level markets, HP recognises the best way to successfully penetrate this area is through indirect channels who are already supporting its IT needs.

"The channel is really important for this type of product," Anderson said. "We expect over 50 per cent of the L-class servers to be sold through the channel in the US, but we expect that figure to be as high as 75-80 per cent in Australia.

"The channel guys are the ones that know the low-end customers best and they move through it all the time. That is why it has been so critical for us to have the channel programs in place and we have put a lot of effort into that.

"We are concentrating on the channel with these products. Our reseller programs and pricing model for the L-class is designed to give higher margins to the resellers than Sun typically does."

Anderson said that although the servers can be custom configured to the exact needs of the individual customer, there are two basic configurations being touted for the launch.

The HP L-class L1000 (one- to two-way) and L2000 (one- to four-way) servers will be available locally in October and November, respectively, with one year 24 x 7 system support as standard.

The L1000 wears an ex-tax price of $41,433 while the L2000 is tagged at $52,957.

HP 9000 L-class servers have been designed to run:

Remote Web-based management

Wireless Internet computing

Legacy and database applications on the WebSecure Web serverPre-integrated e-commerce solutionse-commerce site building and hostingSAP R/3Supply-chain management