Product Challenges


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By Bradley Hecht (Send Email)
Posted Nov 1, 2000

No Integrated SCSI Controller Although performance issues make it desirable for customers to buy add-in SCSI controller(s), they should not be required to do so just to get a working storage subsystem. Ergonomics The CD, floppy, and removable media devices are in the wrong place - if the unit is freestanding who wants to bend that far over just to put in a CD or diskette or tape (for backup)?


No removable media devices The box is tightly packaged, but having at least one additional media bay would be beneficial to customers. RAM Capabilities Profusion can support up to 32GB of RAM. Although Compaq feels customers will not soon need/use more than the 16GB Compaq provides, having the flexibility to expand would be helpful to a customer. General PCI Slots Compaq provides only two 66 MHz slots, half of its competition. Since the same I/O board is used in both products, this comment applies to both. Corporate Issues Dell has been gaining ground on Compaq, and Compaq has been "distracted" due to problems with the Digital acquisition. Those problems appear to be subsiding, and we expect Compaq to return to its former focus within 12 months (70% probability), but they are not there yet.


Vendor Recommendations

It is not yet clear that customers want both a rack and a freestanding-optional product. Since the high-end server marketplace will be dominated by rackmount systems [Ref. TEC Research Note "High-End Wintel-based Rackmount Servers - The Big Get Bigger"], it is not clear that a 14U-tall rackmount-which-can-convert will have a sufficiently large market presence. People who need lots of drives can buy storage expansion enclosures to mount underneath a 7U-high server, with little (if any) feature set loss. However, since the mechanical design was just a modest repackaging of the PL 7000, Compaq probably thought the monetary risk was acceptable. Other than this issue, the product is positioned appropriately. Compaq should modify its PCI implementation by adding more 66 MHz slots, and add at least one more slot overall. These changes will give them parity in almost every feature category, and the clear winner in others. Compaq should leverage everything it can from the Corollary/Intel co-development relationship - this can provide long term benefits, either through quicker product development or through development of more feature- and performance-rich systems. Finally, Compaq should use its current time advantage as much as possible with an aggressive sales campaign, and consider using the expected Merced delays as a lever, while carefully balancing against the potential alienation of Intel.

User Recommendations

These products are good choices for clients who have high-end computing environments, such as data warehouses or server consolidation requirements. The feature set and hardware reliability features are excellent, and the only technology concern is based in the Profusion chipset, due to its newness. However, Compaq's co-development relationship should reduce Profusion-related concerns. The ProLiant 8500 is a better choice for those users who either need the flexibility of mixing and matching components in a rack, or who are still unsure of what their needs are. We believe that the ProLiant 8000 is appropriate only for those users who know they need a self-contained solution, especially if it is the only server they plan to buy. If customers need more than one or two servers, then the 8500 is the better choice. In addition, the lack of an integrated SCSI controller and small amount of 66 MHz PCI slots can be used by the customer to gain concessions in other areas.

Graph 1

Compaq 32.7 36
Dell 14.7 23.3
IBM 15.7 12.6
HP 11.8 9.5
Others 25.1 18.6
Table 1


  • ERP = Enterprise Resource Planning
  • RAID = Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks
  • TPC, TPC-C, tpmC = Transaction Processing Performance Council and its performance rating system
  • SCSI = Small Computer Systems Interface (disk storage interface used in servers and PCs)
  • PCI = Peripheral Component Interconnect (an I/O bus used in servers and PCs)
  • U = Rack unit: a unit of height in rack systems, equal to 1.75"

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