Analysts have warned that Dell has chosen the wrong time to launch its long-awaited blade server.
Dell has claimed that its PowerEdge 1655MC blade server, the first in its "broad modular" server line, can reduce running costs by sharing power and cooling.
The machine is designed for large server farms, server consolidation projects, thin-client computing and high-performance compute clusters.
It consists of six dual-processor server blades, SCSI hard disk drives with integrated hardware Raid, hot-plug redundant power supplies and cooling fans, an integrated management card and redundant Ethernet switches.
Dell first unveiled the new server back in April. Analysts expressed surprise that the product would not be shipping until much later, giving competitors such as Hewlett Packard and IBM a nine-month start on the market with the blade servers they already had available for customers.
But Steve Brazier, chief executive at analyst Canalys, was not surprised that Dell had taken so long to launch its product.
"Dell is late to market, but then Dell is usually late to market with new technology. The company plays stronger to a market that's growing rather than launching a new technology," he said.
But despite the importance of blade servers to the future of server computing, the market is taking off much more slowly than some analysts have predicted.
Brazier explained that there might not be many buyers at the moment. "Blade servers suit internet data centre applications, which have heavy usage," he said.
"There has been a period of massive roll-out of that type of infrastructure and there is plenty of capacity in current products. Companies see no need to replace what they've got.
"The current economic climate is also a factor. It is a poor time to launch a new server technology, but it will eventually happen."
Brazier indicated that he did not expect any significant growth in the blade server market over the next 12 months, and that growth would be more likely to take three to five years.
The PowerEdge 1655MC is available now with prices starting at $3,298 (£2,129) for an enclosure and one server blade.
Operating systems supported include Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Red Hat Linux.
Despite repeated requests, Dell failed to comment by the time we went to press.
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