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HP NonStop server targets smaller businesses

HP has released its most affordable version of the NonStop server line, the NS1000, which aims to provide high availability to smaller companies that don't have the budget for bigger machines.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has released NS1000, a new NonStop server aimed for smaller data centers that can't afford larger high-availability machines.

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HP, usually tightlipped about price tags, is touting the $85,000 per processor price for the NS1000 and is targeting IBM's smaller mainframe, the z9 Business Class. The NonStop comes with between two and eight processors, so the minimum price for a machine is $170,000. The minimum price for a z9 with a single processor is about $100,000.

HP is hoping the new server will appeal to customers in the healthcare, financial services and telecommunications industries, which it says want to minimize downtime but can't afford to pay a premium -- hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars -- for the most powerful servers. HP says the NS1000 will allow for the five 9s of availability, amounting to about five minutes of downtime per year.

NEC Solutions Inc. and Stratus Technologies also provide fault-tolerant servers, which refer to systems having twin components that mirror each other. So, if one fails, the other continues to work and the server experiences no interruption.

Other features of the new NonStop server, which is available now, include:

  • Between two-to-eight Intel Itanium 2, 1.3 GHz processors, with future installments of Intel processors being included as they come out.
  • 4 to 8 GB of memory.
  • 3 MB cache and connect up to 32 terabytes of disk storage per system using internal disks.

"This is really NonStop's first foray into a growing market with small- and mid-sized companies," said Craig Wagner, HP NonStop marketing director. "These types of companies don't have extensive IT staff. They need high availability and they don't want to monkey around with it."

Wagner gave the example of different-sized hospitals. Whereas the two larger NonStop servers, the NS16000 and the NS14000, were a good fit for hospitals with 400 to 500 beds, the entry price for those machines (which Wagner wouldn't divulge) can be too high for smaller hospitals.

"There is a whole swath of lower scale hospitals with, say, 150 beds," he said. "This allows us to move down into that market."

Steve Josselyn, enterprise research director at research firm IDC, said the NonStop and z9 are probably going after similar customers, but that it's unlikely that either will take away much business from the other. The dogfight may be how many new customers in the distributed computing environment each of them can snag.

"Where they are competing directly is the need for that high-availability characteristic," he said.

Josselyn added that there is plenty of opportunity in the marketplace because "there are smaller customers that don't have the same kind of budget flexibility that some of the larger organizations have and do have a requirement for fault-tolerant or very high-availability servers."

Yash Kapadia, CEO of HP system integrator Opsol Integrators Inc., said the new server will open up the field and widen Opsol's customer base as it will for HP.

"We have done a large part of our business with HP," he said. "Now we are really excited that we can take this offering to the mid-sized businesses so we can come up with new packages and new price points."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer

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