NEC Raises Virtualization Banner

Computer systems manufacturer NEC announced a new four-way
utility server designed to help CIOs with their consolidation issues, the
company said Monday.

The NEC Express5800/340Hb FT is also one of several manufactures pledging
support for the upcoming Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. NEC’s base unit
starts at $149,999 and comes standard with four Intel Xeon MP
processors running at 2.8 gigahertz apiece with 2 gigabytes of memory, two 18GB HDDs (hard disk drive)
and a choice of either Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition or Virtual Server.

The expandable mid-range server features a 10U rack-optimized form factor
and uses blade server architecture by separating processing/memory and I/O
onto separate modules and features hot-swappable functionality.

“[We are] providing customers with the industry’s most reliable and secure
platform for server virtualization and consolidation available today,” Larry
Sheffield, NEC’s senior vice president of the company’s Solutions Platform
Group in America, said in a statement.

NEC has got its work cut out for it, because at least a half dozen other server
manufacturers are also targeting the need for so-called “fault tolerant”
servers. The Rancho Cordova, Calif-based American version of Tokyo-based NEC
must go head-to-head with computer-makers like IBM , HP
, Fujitsu, and Sun Microsystems who are
specialists at servers that promise 99.999 percent uptime. The competition
has also had the added threat of developing their own versions of
virtualization software.

NEC said it has a leg up on its rivals because it has a history
(ala the Earth Simulator) of developing computers that just won’t give up. The company
said its new Express5800/340Hb FT also has an aversion to the traditional
problems associated with traditional server architectures and cluster-based
solutions.

“NEC is the only major enterprise manufacturer to offer a four-way
high-availability server delivering up to 99.999 percent continuous
availability, averaging less than five minutes of unplanned downtime per
year,” Sheffield said.

For example, Sheffield said pharmaceutical corporations could use the
server’s high-availability functionality to run uninterrupted molecular
model tests for the development of new drugs, saving both time and
resources. The server could also give retail corporations and e-commerce
sites round-the-clock operations with full access to inventory and sales
records, he said.

The company is also banking on IT decision-makers that want to plug
Microsoft’s server software in their systems.

“Virtual machine software is becoming a popular solution to help
organizations maximize their current technology investments, consolidate
servers and simplify management capabilities,” David Hamilton, Microsoft
director of the Windows and Enterprise Management Division.

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