Under the banner of a push that Compaq is calling adaptive infrastructures, the company is readying software and hardware that will let users more easily control Intel-based servers remotely, load software images on numerous servers simultaneously, automatically detect and fix component failures, and automatically direct computing resources to where they're most needed within an infrastructure. "Server management is becoming more and more challenging as customers move to highly dense environments, so having the right management tools becomes critical," says Mary McDowell, senior VP and general manager of Compaq's Industry Standard Server Group.
The new software will be sold as part of Compaq's ProLiant Essentials software pack, which the company will release early next year. Some of the new offerings will incorporate applications from software maker Altiris Inc., whose products Compaq already bundles with a number of hardware devices.
Compaq says some of the new technology will be aimed specifically at helping users manage its forthcoming server-blade environment, known as ProLiant BL. Compaq says ProLiant BL products, formerly known by the code name Quick Blade, will begin shipping in volume early next year.
Compaq's adaptive infrastructure initiative appears to mirror, in tone at least, rival IBM's efforts to develop servers with so-called self-healing, self-managing capabilities. However, IBM has a considerable head start. For instance, the company is already taking orders for a new server--the x360--that features so-called remote I/O capabilities. Remote I/O lets IT managers more quickly and easily expand server infrastructures while reducing system bottlenecks. McDowell says Compaq is also developing remote I/O technology but it is months away from being market ready.
Compaq also faces the additional challenge of marketing new technologies amid its pending merger with Hewlett-Packard, which Tuesday unveiled its own server-blade initiative. Some customers have indicated that they are uncomfortable placing large orders with either company until the companies can provide a detailed, post-merger product roadmap. "Since the merger announcement, both Compaq and Hewlett Packard have seen their competitive positions significantly eroded," says US Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Ashok Kumar. McDowell says Compaq will support any product it sells before the merger for at least five years, regardless of the outcome of the transaction.