HP sets twisted roadmap straight with new servers

Hewlett-Packard Co. figures its six new servers represent a strong commitment to IA-32 architecture, but one industry analyst said the devices also address previous confusion concerning HP’s products.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based manufacturer earlier this month unveiled six servers to address a range of customers. The products are all IA-32-based and they comprise “a very important announcement for HP,” said Parag Suri, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd.’s category business manager from Mississauga, Ont.

Gone is the confusing nomenclature associated with HP’s Netservers. In its place is an alphanumeric naming key wherein the first two letters denote shape (“tc” for “tower,” “rc” for “rack optimized”) and the numbers ramp upwards according to the server’s capability – the 3100 is a step above the 2110, for example.

HP says the low-cost tc2110 – at $1,749 – is the first server to use Intel’s Pentium 4 microprocessor. It offers a 1.7GHz front side bus, up to 240GB hard disk space and 128MB memory. HP figures the tc2110 works best as an Internet connector or e-mail server for SMBs.

The tc3100, priced at $2,349 is also meant for SMBs, but this server carries two 1.26GHz or 1.4GHz PIII chips, up to 4GB ECC memory and as many as five hot-swappable 73GB Ultra 160 hard drives.

The tc4100, for workgroups and remote offices, offers two PIII processors, 620GB of hard disk space and hot swappable everything – drives, power and fans. It is priced at $3,999.

The tc6100 has two Intel Xeon processors, but it’s upgradeable to a four-way design without having to change the motherboard. This server for enterprise departments offers up to 8GB of memory through DIMM slots, seven open I/O slots and eight hard drive bays, and is priced at $6,399.

The tc7100, listed at $11,399, carries four Xeon chips, a 400MHz front side bus, seven I/O slots, eight HDD bays, two tray bays, hot-swap capabilities, redundant power and cooling. It’s meant for enterprise-class applications such as databases and messaging.

The rc7100, like the tc7100, carries four Xeons, but comes in a 3U “rack optimized” package. It’s price is $13,499.

Alan Freedman, IDC Canada’s Toronto-based research manager for servers, workstations and storage, said it’s about time HP cleaned up its naming convention.

“Before, it was all over the board, a real jumble in the way they named things. Now there’s some consistency and customers can see where they’re slotted for their applications, their workloads and where the next option is.”

Gord Edwards agreed. He’s the manager of information systems support with Osram Sylvania Ltd., a lighting company in Mississauga, Ont. that uses 12 HP Netservers in its network. After checking the specs, Edwards said HP’s latest boxes address his concerns.

“Some of the…issues that we have run into in the past is, we would like to be able to add new hard drives, but now the hard drive sizes that came with the unit are no longer available,” he said of the older HP technology.

As for the new servers, “they seem to be on the right track,” he said. “They’ve revamped the naming convention to make it easier for people such as myself to stand back and…select the right machine for the right need.”

For more information, consult the company’s Web site at www.hp.com.