What are the factors that are likely to have an impact on the shape of things to come?
Almost all the vendors - Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM except Sun - see the Itanium processor as raising the bar for Intel based servers. All of them believe that Itanium will be the next standard for scalable-server architecture, offering highly-parallel 64-bit processing that will allow more computing to be carried out at once and at unprecedented speeds.
The Itanium Processor Family (IPF), co-developed by HP and Intel, demonstrates HP’s strong commitment in this evolution. HP hopes that their next processor family will support all of three operating systems – HP-UX, Windows and Linux. Their scenario for the future will have three major OS for servers – Unix (HP-UX), Windows and Linux. This is inline with HP’s server strategy to help bring together the server and supporting infrastructure that allows customers to gain the best possible advantage of Unix (HP-UX), Windows and Linux.
None of the vendors seems to be of the opinion that Internet appliances are a threat to their servers. Although these devices can be used as servers, but not all of them would deliver the efficiency, reliability, stability, scalability and manageability that users today expect from servers, which are fast becoming the backbone of the business. Hence, if a business is serious about IT, it would not risk using these machines as servers.
IBM’s Chia Sock Ker (left) is taking the view that in the mid to long term, Linux will be impacting the server industry. To further support this view, “IBM has pledged their support to Linux and the open source community with plans for further investments in year 2001,” said the region manager of eServer xSeries and IntelliStation, Server Group at IBM ASEAN/South Asia.
Interestingly, capacity-on-demand services where users are charged for only the amount of storage they use, and LPar - logical partitioning of servers - are key areas where IBM is targeting for the future.
Sun feels that advances in network technology will continue to have a significant impact on the server industry. As a result, Ng Kia Chiang, Sun's Product Sales Director (left)believes that we will continue to see incredible new business opportunities that will drive exponential growth on the Internet, and that will result in companies building for massive scale. As the Internet requires companies to provide a growing number of compute services around the clock, high availability of systems and data will become an issue. As the Internet requires companies to provide a growing number of computer services around the clock, high availability of systems and data is a huge issue. Customers need superior availability features, such as Dynamic System Domains, Dynamic Reconfiguration, full hardware redundancy and Hot CPU upgrades.
Prices will fall further
The prices of entry-level servers are becoming increasingly affordable. According to Compaq, competition between Intel and AMD are lowering entry-level processors and features for greater ease-of-use and manageability are going up. This should make them even more amenable for small businesses and increase the number of choices in this highly competitive market. In addition, Compaq will continue to support the evolving strains of standards-based Unix as well as future versions of Windows-based operating systems. They are actively working with their partners in the development, testing and introduction of these new operating systems.
Dell Asia Pacific’s Director of Enterprise Business Geoff Healey (left) said that they plan to keep a close eye on continuing conflict between open standards vs. proprietary architecture. They foresee developments in storage technologies like SAN and NAS and the possibility of hardware becoming a commodity.
Fujitsu sees initiatives like Intel’s BladeServer project, which will further reduce the floor space requirements in data centers and allow servers on a board rather than in a box as also causing a stir in the server industry. Combined with the competitive processor pricing, this may cause further cost reductions in the provision of Internet services.
At the corporate end of the market, Fujitsu anticipate the steady rise of Windows 2000 into the data center industry, extending scalability and database serving functionality on the Internet to Windows applications. This is also in line with Microsoft’s .Net rollout plans.
On UNIX, they see initiatives to boost the power of their SPARC processors into GHz range and beyond. This is key to long-term requirements of large corporations. They are looking to the use of UNIX for installing their next generation of organization-wide ERP and CRM systems to allow all of their operations to be integrated and available as required on the Internet and through 3G mobile phone technology.
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