Everybody knows that Gateway made its money by building individually tailored machines to order for the home and small office markets.
Everybody also knows that for a long time Gateway has wanted a piece of the corporate action. It took the company a while to realise that this would mean more than simply attempting to shove its desktops into the corporate space, it would also mean offering complete solutions and that covers servers as well as desktops.
So it was that roughly 12 months ago Gateway dipped its toe into the waters of the server market. It did this by acquiring a company with Wintel server expertise called ALR, hence we have the ALR server product range from Gateway.
The entry-level model is the ALR-7200 which offers single or dual-processor capabilities based on the Pentium II 350MHz, 400MHz and 450MHz chips.
It ships as standard with 64Mb of SDRAM and can be upgraded to a maximum of 1Gb. A dual-channel Ultra 2 RAID controller is integrated into the system board and can be fitted with up to four 9.1Gb hard drives. RAID is not supplied as standard but can be fitted as an optional extra. There are six available PCI expansion slots and one shared PCI/ISA. The system comes as standard with an integrated Intel 10/100 Ethernet card and a 3Com Ethernet card can be supplied optionally if required.
The 7200SBS version is essentially the same machine. The most notable differences are that the system ships with Microsoft Small Business Server rather than NT 4.0 Server, and comes fitted with a 56K fax modem as standard - presumably for remote management capabilities. The ALR-8200 departmental server takes things up to the next level by offering better options, such as those to add an additional hot-swappable hard drive with load-sharing capabilities. The system also has a dual-channel Ultra2 SCSI controller and offers a total of 13 drive bays with options for RAID controllers and hot-swap backplanes.
Interestingly, Gateway doesn't seem to be as vigorous about the server market in the UK as it is in the US. In the UK its range seems quite small and its highest spec machine - the ALR 8200 - seems quite lowly by most standards. However, in the US both the 7000 and 8000 series offer a lot more variants and flexible configurations.
What's more, US customers can get their hands on the high-end 9000 series which offers even higher degrees of availability and scales all the way up to four-way Xeon processing. Yet, in both markets you get the impression that Gateway isn't entirely comfortable with what it's doing in the server market.
The old "pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap" production line ethics of the consumer desktop market doesn't really apply to the server market where customers need more complete solutions rather than simply a box with a processor in it.
In short, we'd be hesitant in recommending Gateway as a provider until it finds its feet in the market and is capable of competing on equal terms with the likes of Dell and Compaq.
- Price starts from #1,497
- Tel: 0800 973132 - www.gateway2000.co.uk.
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