New York, N.Y. — Ken Popovich reports that Dell Computer Corp. announced several new servers, including a 32-processor system manufactured by Unisys Corp., and touted enhanced consulting and management services as it highlighted an increasing commitment to move beyond the PC. The announcements, made by Dell officials at a New York news conference, underscored the company’s bid to boost its non-PC revenue, which accounts for less than 25 percent of annual revenue – an effort analysts said is becoming increasingly important amid growing concerns over slowing PC sales.
Perhaps the most significant addition to Dell’s product line involved the announcement that the company has signed a letter of intent with Unisys to market a 32-processor server in the first quarter of next year based on the Unisys Cellular Multiprocessing server architecture.
The as-yet-unnamed server will utilize Intel Corp.’s 32-bit Pentium III Xeon processors and will accommodate Intel’s 64-bit Itanium processor when it becomes available early next year.
While Dell has made significant advances in selling servers, rising from the 10th-ranked Intel-based server vendor worldwide in 1996 to its current position as the second-largest vendor, the company’s product line has lacked the large multiprocessor servers that its competitors have and that appeal to large enterprise customers.
Dell doesn’t expect to sell large numbers of the 32-bit systems, which can cost more than $1 million, but an official admitted that the company felt compelled to match its competitors’ offerings.
“It’s clearly not a volume market opportunity,” said Kevin Libert, director of marketing for Dell’s Enterprise Systems Group. But he noted that at the Windows 2000 conference in San Francisco in February, “if you looked on stage, we were up there with IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Unisys … and we were the only major player on stage without a 32-way, so it makes sense to round it out.”
The new high-end server strengthens Dell’s overall ability to market its products to large enterprise customers, many of which are increasingly relying on large multi-processor systems to handle a surge in Internet-related commerce.
“There are certain applications, like database applications, and there are certain customers who like having a single large-system image, and this product helps fulfill that,” Libert said. The new 32-processor system is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of next year, he said.
Also, Dell announced four rack-optimized server offerings: the PowerEdge 1550 (two-processor capable), PowerEdge 350 (single-processor), and PowerApp.web 120 and PowerApp.web 110, which are similar to the 1550 and 350 but are dedicated for Web hosting applications.
Dell also announced expanded consulting services targeted at large enterprise customers and aimed at assisting in the deployment of Windows 2000 along with helping fine-tune computing infrastructures to handle rapidly increasing workload demands. The company also touted several new on-site and remote-management capabilities.
Although Dell said that although today’s announcement marks the first time it has publicized these services, the company has already provided such services for its customers.
“We have been quietly ramping up on our services capabilities over the last year or two,” Libert said. “Basically, we’ve evolved quite a bit over the last year.”