Dell Updates Its Appliance Line
Krause - April 28th, 2000
Dell Computer Corporation introduced its new line of Dell PowerApp appliance
servers as part of Dell's comprehensive Internet infrastructure strategy.
appliance servers focus on Web hosting and Internet caching. For Web hosting,
PowerApp.web products are dedicated Web servers that include optimized
versions of Web hosting software from Microsoft or Red Hat Linux. The
PowerApp.web 100 products can be ordered today and will ship in early
Web server software from Microsoft includes Microsoft Windows Powered
Web hosting server software, co-developed by Dell and Microsoft, and Microsoft
Internet Information Server. Optimized Web server software from Red Hat
includes Red Hat Linux and Apache Web server. For Internet caching, PowerApp.cache
products are dedicated Internet caching servers that leverage Novell Internet
Caching System (ICS) technology. PowerApp.cache 100 and 200 products can
be ordered this month and will ship in May 2000.
International Data Corporation, a respected industry consulting firm,
forecasts the worldwide appliance server market will grow dramatically,
from virtually no market presence in 1998 to an estimated volume of over
two million units by 20032.
1.75"-high (1U) PowerApp.web 100 for Linux is pre-configured and includes
Red Hat Linux 6.2 featuring Apache Web Server 1.3.12, Sendmail, and Piranha
load balancer installed. The PowerApp.web 100 for Windows, based on Microsoft's
Windows Powered Web hosting server software, includes Internet Information
Server 5.0, Microsoft Network Load Balancing Service, and Microsoft Terminal
Services for remote administration.
1U PowerApp.cache 100 and 2U PowerApp.cache 200 (3.5-inches) appliance
servers are pre-configured with Novell's Internet Caching System application
With Dell's new professed focus on Internet infrastructure (II), this
announcement comes as no surprise. Dell has been dropping hints about
server appliances for months.
this point, Dell customers wanting an appliance would have to buy a PowerEdge
1300 with Novell's ICS caching software pre-loaded onto it. Obviously,
this was not aimed at Web serving, but at Web users/clients. Although
these units functioned adequately, they were clearly not geared toward
ISPs or toward companies trying to rackmount a bunch of caching servers.
The 1300 was 5U tall, too large for a highly-dense configuration.
these products are to be used in trying to gain a major foothold in the
non-transactional section of Web infrastructure, with "Transactional"
used here to mean the database and "back office" or "back end" of a given
Web business. Dell believes that it can translate its success in the general-purpose
server market - currently #2 in both U.S. and worldwide (Intel) market
share - into a leading II position. Although skills in one area don't
necessarily map well into another, we believe Dell's business model combined
with its recent alliances give it a better-than-even chance at meeting
is also a signal of a more aggressive stance toward Sun Microsystems.
Although Dell's offering is not aiming directly at big systems such as
Sun's E10000, it believes it can surround the "Big Iron" and bide its
time until Windows 2000 is proved to be more robust than Solaris. Of course,
we're not holding our breath for that. (Linux is also an
option, but Dell is still primarily a Windows shop.)
For the time being, this announcement is of limited interest to the general
business public. The current set of PowerApp models is aimed at ISPs and
ASPs. In this space, the competition includes smaller systems from Sun,
as well as other Windows-based or Linux-based systems such as IBM's Netfinity
4000R and the upcoming 4500R.
Dell believes that a single-CPU system is sufficiently powerful to drive
xSP-type applications, with the bottleneck being the network. IBM believes
that for heavy-duty Web applications, dual-CPU systems provide a more
robust and powerful infrastructure.
advise customers to test these contentions for themselves before committing
large amounts of money to revamping (or building up) their infrastructure.
For example, back-end loaded (e.g., calculation/processing-intense) sites
might benefit more from a dual-CPU system, while high-bandwidth-required
sites might not need all the computing horsepower of a dual.
Client-side Web caching, for example, might not need all that power. As
a general rule, customers will need to review their requirements and compare
them to the benefits from each server.