Intel plans to invest about $1 billion over the next two years in establishing 12 Internet hosting centres worldwide, starting with its first in Santa Clara, California, which opened on Tuesday.
The Santa Clara site cost $150 million to set up and will hold 10,000 servers, but will be followed by another in Reston, Virginia by the end of the first quarter of 2000, which will house 8,000 servers. Similar facilities in the UK and Japan are scheduled to open by the end of the first half of next year.
An Intel spokesman said: "First generation hosting providers provided safe and secure buildings and guaranteed fast network connections, but customers supplied their own hardware and software and plugged it in. With Intel Online Services, we provide the hardware, operating system (OS) and basic applications that we test, validate and make sure are reliable."
He continued: "This will make the development of ebusiness solutions faster because users won't have to worry about what hardware to chose and how they will integrate it with the OS etc. Instead Web developers can focus on things like what the user interface looks like and what bells and whistles they want to add to their ecommerce Web sites."
He added that Intel decided to move into the Web hosting business because "there is a potential for strong growth in the Internet sector and we want to profit from it."
Server options will comprise Dell's Intel based machines and Sun Sparc based boxes running Solaris, but other OS choices include Linux and Windows NT. Intel will also provide two choices of database, Web page and transaction processing software and customers will be charged per server on a monthly basis.
MCI Worldcom's UUNet unit will act as US Internet Service Provider, but the initiative is also being supported by consulting firms, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, iXL, Proxicom, Razorfish and US Interactive.
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