HP Unveils Entry-Level UNIX Servers

HP, second behind Sun in the entry-level UNIX server market, has made a bid to move up by launching the new A-Class, the HP 9000 A400 and A500. HP is also bundling some big-name software with the A-Class, having lined up more than 20 ISV partners, including Nokia, Resonate, and Infoseek. To meet the needs of service providers and start-ups, HP has extended its existing instant Capacity on Demand (iCOD) program and its innovative financing options.

The new 1- or 2-way A-Class servers fall below the entry-level 4-way L-Class and reflect HP's desire to further penetrate the entry level--a lucrative market that reaches almost $11 billion, according to IDC. Specifically, HP is targeting Internet start-ups, established dot coms, and enterprise and mid-market customers evolving from brick-and-mortar businesses to e-businesses, says John Miller, HP's worldwide product line manager for UNIX server systems. "The A-Class boasts a pizza box form factor and can stand alone in branch offices or be racked for the Internet marketplace."

The servers, available on Linux as well as HP-UX can be ordered beginning June 1. Prices start at $4,600 for the A400 and at $9,200 for the A500.

The A400 features HP's PA-8500 chip, while the A500 features the PA-8600, the new processor included in HP's mid-range N-Class. The purpose, of course, is to boost performance, at the low, or front, end. The servers also feature WebQoS peak traffic management software, extended fault management systems, and Web-based management tools for remote diagnosis.

Bundled with both servers are Nokia's WAP server, Infoseek's search engine, and Resonate's load-balancing software. The Nokia software makes the A-Class the first out-of-the box Web server, according to Miller, who says it was included to meet the growing demand for access into databases and Web front ends via cell phone or mobile device. The free license for the Nokia WAP software is, he says, a $3,000 value.

The two other major licenses featured at no cost in the A-Class—for Resonate and Infoseek software—are also a bargain, according to Miller. A-Class users obtain the Resonate software for up to three servers at no cost. That's a $12,000 value, Miller says. The free license for Infoseek for up to 500 documents is, he says, a $500 value.

To meet the needs of service providers, HP has extended its instant iCOD program to offer Servers on Demand. The Servers on Demand program allows businesses to keep HP servers on-site and increase capacity as they need it, paying only as they pull the servers into their environment.

HP has also provided a carrot for startups. The new Pay-Per-Forecast program allows users to structure their lease payments based on revenue forecast over the term of the lease. That, says Miller, allows companies to "match revenue with expenses."

In the services arena, HP has brought some of its high-end services down to encompass the new entry-level servers, offering, for example, six-hour call to repair.