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Hardware Today: Gateway Server Snapshot

By Ben Freeman (Send Email)
Posted Mar 22, 2004


At first blush,the landscape of Gateway server country looks much like Dell server country. Like Dell, Gateway offers Intel Celeron-based entry-level servers that straddle the line between servers and robust desktop machines.

It's been a little over a year since Gateway set out to be a disruptive force on the enterprise server scene. We look at whether it's been a blizzard or a squall, and discuss how the vendor's products stack up against the competition.

In addition, Gateway's current server price structure, hardware spread, and even Web site purchase options are similar to Dell's. The similarities make sense when one looks at who is in the driver's seat: Scott Weinbrandt, senior vice president of Gateway's Enterprise Systems and Professional Business Services group, left Dell for Gateway and has been charged with the task of making Gateway a disruptive force in both the SMB and enterprise space.

To its credit, Gateway has been able to squeeze a distinct server offering through the margins of an extremely competitive commodity space. IDC's fourth quarter 2003 server sales statistics shows Gateway leveraging this approach into success in the entry level market. Gateway ranked a distant fifth in domestic server units shipped (behind IBM, Dell, HP, and Sun). In domestic server sales, however, it ranked ninth, showing that it's moved more, albeit less-expensive, units than other vendors and fewer of its more recent 4-way Xeon MP based 995 series servers. Its desktop user base and retail locations, from which it claims to generate 40 percent of its SMB business, have also helped to move lower end units. This indicates that perhaps Gateway's sweet spot is slightly lower than scale-out's typical virtualization-ripe 4-way models.

"While we're slowly ramping up the 4-way system, it was more of a strategic product to enable us to sell more of the other, more commoditized products, " Weinbrandt said. "[This helped] us entertain bid opportunities that we historically could not participate in, because we were locked out without a 4-way." Gateway's most popular servers to date are the 920, 960 for towers, and the 955 and 975 for racks. The smaller servers have won out.

Compared to other vendors Hardware Today has profiled, the overall ranks of Gateway's server line are arguably slim. It appears uncomfortable with this, opting to bulk its Web offerings up via an opening menu that suggests different server lines for SMBs, large businesses, government, and education, a la Dell. But while these markets do have distinct shopping requirements, don't search the site expecting to find other server offerings hiding within. Gateway's offerings come down to a simple, and also quite logical, largely Xeon-based incrementally numbered assemblage of 1-way to 4-way servers. The following chart depicts Gateway's server and storage offerings, without regard for its own gently redundant taxonomy of them.

Gateway's Server Offerings*

Server Type
Servers
Description
Max. No. of
Processors
Processor Range
Base Price
Tower 920,
920 SCSI,
920 SB
Entry-level server for organizations with a limited IS staff Celeron 2.4 GHz or P4 3.06 GHz 1 $399,
$649,
$1,098
960X For workgroups running basic applications Xeon DP 3.06 GHz 1 to 2 $1,299
980 For workgroups running high-performance applications Xeon DP 3.06 GHz 1 to 2 $2,299
Rack 955 1U, general-purpose Xeon DP 3.2 GHz 1 to 2 $1,599
975 2U, general-purpose
Xeon DP 3.2 GHz
1 to 2
$1,799
995 4U, enterprise-level and mission-critical applications Xeon MP 3.0 GHz 1 to 4 $5,499

* All Gateway servers are certified for SUSE, Novell, and various stripes of Windows. Other platforms have limited support through Gateway's Custom Integration Services.

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