Compaq Plans Industry Standard Appliance Line

Compaq Computer Corp. is looking beyond the industry standard server. An initiative underway at the computer giant is close to producing the company's first so-called industry standard appliance. Plans are in place to follow that product with a broad family of turnkey server appliances.

The first appliance to debut will be a Web caching device, which company officials confirm will ship within the next 90 days. Before the year is out, Compaq expects to launch a second system, targeting the network file server space currently dominated by Network Appliance Inc. ( Compaq is evaluating other market opportunities and is considering offering products specifically configured to provide network security services through VPN and firewall software, e-mail serving, database serving and directory services serving.

The concept is to pre-configure industry standard hardware together with application-specific software and sell the package as a unit. Compaq will support both the hardware and the software as a single entity, eliminating finger pointing between hardware and software suppliers when a device fails. "Where the standards are well-defined and there's not much customization, that's where we see Compaq fitting," explains John Young, director of appliance and communication servers at Compaq.

The first device will be based on technology supplied by Novell Inc., and will likely include Novell's BorderManager FastCache services. Following the launch of the cache server, the next appliance will be a network file server that will provide CIFS and NFS services to Windows NT and Unix clients. Young says this appliance will make its debut before the end of 1999.

Young declines to identify the source of the kernel Compaq will run in the file server appliance, but characterized it as a "kernel optimized for that application." He confirms it would not be built upon Windows NT technology, but would provide NT file serving and would participate on an NT network seamlessly, as other non-NT based file servers such as Network Appliance's machines can.

The appliance product family will be developed under a new product family name and will not be leveraging the ProLiant moniker.

"For years we've had customers asking us, 'help us do this better, make it easier for us," says Young. "You're buying a [system] now -- we will provide one-stop accountability for service."

Compaq's Appliance Initiative


Potential Delivery

Web Caching Server

90 Days

File Server

Late 1999

Security Server


E-mail/Messaging Server


Database Server


Directory Services Server


-- Al Gillen, Editor in Chief

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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