Dell Computer Corp has taken a major step in its strategy to get into the high end enterprise systems business with the launch of its first clustering high availability products, the Dell PowerEdge Cluster. The company, which has gone from strength to strength with its direct sales, build-to-order model for selling personal computers, only entered the server market last year and says it first had to prove it was a player in the server business. Dell demonstrated its first cluster product at Oracle Open World running Oracle Corp’s Parallel Server, but says the PowerEdge Cluster is its first industry standard cluster offering. It believes it is among the first to incorporate Microsoft Corp’s Microsoft Server Cluster, formerly known as WolfPack, and the offering, which ranges in price from $60,000 to $80,000 for base configurations of two PowerEdge 6100 servers, is aimed firmly at the high-end of the enterprise market, where high availability is essential. Dell will continue to use its direct telephone or internet-based sales model for the PowerEdge clusters, but has had to add a layer of technical support to its business. A technical sales representative will discuss the precise requirements with the customer, and help them specify the configuration they need. The system will then be built to order in Dell’s usual way, but a technician will also be despatched to the customer site to set up and configure the cluster. The company will also offer 24-hour support and maintenance services. Dell says this is taking it into the higher margin, lower volume business, and is the first step in its push into the enterprise, which it will focus on this year. The initial systems are only two-way clusters which will enable simple failover systems. Dell says when Microsoft delivers the next version of its Server Cluster next year which will support connection of multiple servers, enabling load balancing and other features, it will have products ready based on this technology. The PowerEdge Cluster is available to order now, and first shipments are expected next month.
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