December 7, 1999 [Online News] - San Diego-based Gateway, Inc. jumped into the
PC server appliance market today, announcing a pair of Linux-based devices that
can handle Internet access, e-mail and file sharing for small businesses and
franchises or branch offices of larger companies.
new Gateway Micro Server models run off of an embedded 64-bit RISC processor
made by MIPS Computer Systems Inc. and can be installed in as little as 30 minutes,
Gateway said. The Linux operating system is hidden from end users, who only
see the built-in Internet and e-mail applications. The devices start at $1,299
and are intended to support up to 100 users, although Gateway said more could
be handled for simple e-mail uses.
appears to be one of the first vendors to come out with server appliances built
around Linux. However, we believe one of the most popular uses of Linux with
companies that are adopting the Windows alternative is in single-function applications
similar to the appliance concept.
Although it is a tad late to the arena, Gateway joins the growing list of vendors
shipping server appliances. Gateway chose to outsource the system design to
Cobalt Networks (using Cobalt's Qube series as the system base), rather than
develop the equipment in-house. Market growth for server appliances should increase
based on Gateway's significant position in the PC market. In addition, providing
a Linux-based server will tap into that growing market.
stated focus is small businesses, with good reason. The Qube series is viewed
more as a small-shop product than a building block for a large ISPs/ASPs. In
addition, Cobalt's performance numbers (based on the Web Polygraph testing performed
by Data Communications magazine) are at the lower end of the scale -
this makes it unlikely that a Gateway-modified system will drastically improve
those figures. This also leads to a small-shop focus.
this announcement means that Cobalt has another distribution channel, which
should strengthen its position in the small-vendor server appliance market.
This announcement has little effect on customers needing general-purpose (GP)
servers - server appliances are too specialized to be of interest to the general
market. There will also be little interest for users wanting to build up large
those users who have decided they need/want to have a server appliance setup,
this announcement provides another vendor alternative. Branch offices may have
some interest, but it begs the question of whether the company has an integrated
architecture/strategy, and how the MicroServer fits in with that strategy. The
$1299 price tag will be especially appealing to smaller (a/k/a "Mom and Pop")
shops. However, small shops may be the only viable market for
these appliances. Larger shops would gravitate towards systems more like Cobalt's
RaQ series - rack-mountable, 1U (i.e. rack unit) high, gangable solutions. We
believe that Gateway should also consider offering a re-badged RaQ server.
who decide they need a Linux-based server appliance should include this in their
selection process, albeit with the mentioned caveats.