Hewlett Packard (HP) has introduced a range of low-cost packaged servers to counter the success of Sun Microsystem's low-end Unix systems.
The new 05 series offers servers with between one and eight processors, and is available immediately in three packaged models.
The HP Server rp2405 has one to two processor configurations, the rp5405 has either two or four processor formats, and the rp7405 has two, four and eight processor options.
The three systems are packaged versions of the existing rp2400, rp5400, and rp7400 models, with some software, such as instant capacity on demand and virtual partitioning, stripped out to make them more price-competitive with Sun.
"This is a direct attack on Sun in the emerging low-end Unix systems market," explained Richard George, enterprise server business manager at HP.
"But it is also the result of our research into what customers are asking for today, so the  systems should fit like a glove."
HP's research showed that many users were looking for low-cost, simple to use systems. "But the opportunity is bigger for HP [than Sun] because [HP is] not pushing customers down a Unix-only route," said George.
The 05 models use the HP 650 MHz PA-8700 processor. They are upgradeable to new PA-RISC processors with the rp5405 and rp7405 also able to migrate to Intel Itanium in line with HP's future product roadmap.
UK list pricing is from £3,213 (rp2405), £19,448 (rp5405) and £33,899 (rp7405). The package includes disks, PCI input-output, pre-integrated HP-UX 11i Unix operating environment and system management software.
Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research, described the products as "retaliatory marketing" and a bid to convert users to HP's operating system.
"HP had to jump into this market in order not to cede potential revenue to Sun. [HP and Sun] are working on low margin today for the possibility of jam tomorrow. When users upgrade it tends to be with the same operating system," he said.
But he added that Linux on Itanium, and Microsoft with its Datacenter servers, will also focus on the same customers.
George was keen to stress an opportunity for HP's channel vendors to make money from the new market. HP is developing kits, demand-generation pieces and data sheets for them, he said.
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