HP solution serves small biz

Hewlett-Packard Co. last week released a new server designed to bring full backup and recovery technology to small and mid-size businesses and government offices.

The new HP NetServer E 60, which supports up to two Intel Corp. Pentium II or Pentium III processors, is perfectly suited for government organizations that do not have the manpower available to set up and maintain complex server platforms, according to Tad Goltra, product marketing manager for HP's Small and Medium Business Network Server Division. In fact, the E 60 was designed specifically for "customers that do not have a lot of [information technology] infrastructure," Goltra said.

"The feature decisions we have made [with the E 60] fit very well into the federal market," he said. "We want to keep our design philosophy geared toward something that is very easy to use."

The new "ease of use" feature set of the NetServer E 60 revolves around four core areas: greater expandability, simplified backup, increased expansion and easier trouble-shooting.

Goltra said HP designed the setup and installation process for the NetServer E 60 as a step-by-step procedure during which HP "holds the customer's hand through the entire process." To accomplish this, HP includes a system configuration assistant on CD-ROM, an integrated network interface card, a network operating system installation wizard and online reference material.

To make backup procedures easier, the NetServer E 60 offers an integrated HP SureStore T20Xi tape drive, bundled replication software and a complete disaster-recovery software suite.

"The disaster-recovery software allows a customer to completely restore the network operating system, all system settings, user IDs, applications and data files in a quick and easy manner," Goltra said. "This is the first server in this market that offers this kind of capability."

HP's TopTools server management application provides administrators with the ability to monitor the system's health and to trouble-shoot failures. Users can access the NetServer E 60 using a local or remote World Wide Web-based interface, providing users the means to view status information, diagnose system problems, reboot the server and reconfigure it if necessary.

For expandability, the NetServer E 60 offers six free peripheral component interconnect slots, the ability to scale up to dual Pentium II or Pentium III processors, up to 1G of memory and as much as 72.8G of storage capacity.

The system also supports Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT operating system as well as Novell Inc.'s NetWare and Red Hat Software Inc.'s Linux OS. Although the federal government has been somewhat slower than industry in adopting Linux as an alternative operating platform, HP has "really recognized a customer need for Linux," Goltra said.

Alan Lawrence, manager of strategic programs for HP Federal, said the federal sector holds "a lot of promise for the E 60." In fact, Lawrence said, HP sold several thousand small departmental Web servers to government agencies last year, and the trend appears to be continuing.

Among other vehicles, HP is looking to add the server to the Army's Infrastructure Solutions-1 contract, which was awarded to Telos Corp. in December, Lawrence said.

"While Compaq [Computer Corp.], Dell [Computer Corp.] and IBM [Corp.] are all jumping into the small- to medium-business sector, each with low-end Intel PII and PIII server offerings, Hewlett-Packard's Network Server Division appears to have the best offering," said Brad Day, vice president and senior analyst with Giga Information Group Inc.

"HP actually was the first vendor to push the Intel server solution into the [small- to medium-business sector, and] the E series has a strong legacy of innovation in this space," Day said. "With the E 60, HP has not only maintained all of its earlier design objectives, but it added ease of expandability, hitting all of the business requirements critical to the more demanding population of this buyer segment."

Commercial pricing starts at $2,340 for an entry-level NetServer E 60 outfitted with a 400 MHz Pentium II processor, 64M of memory, a 9G hard drive, a network interface card and an integrated backup solution.

The company plans to add the system to HP's government contracting vehicles in the near future.

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