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Dell picks Avanade for Windows services

The server maker taps the Microsoft and Accenture joint venture to help customers install Dell servers using Microsoft's top-end Datacenter version of Windows.

Dell Computer has named Avanade the preferred consulting company to help customers install Dell servers using Microsoft's top-end Datacenter version of Windows, the companies said Monday.

Despite efforts to build its own consulting group, Dell has long relied on partners such as Unisys to provide services necessary to carry its computers into higher-end accounts. Avanade now has top billing for one part of Dell's consulting services, bolstering existing Dell services for Microsoft's accompanying e-mail, database and e-commerce software.

The Avanade services will cover Windows 2000 Datacenter running on Dell's PowerEdge 8450 eight-processor server as well as storage systems, the companies said.

Avanade was founded in April 2000 as a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, one of the top consulting companies.

Datacenter is the most powerful version of Windows 2000. It runs on servers with as many as 32 CPUs, though in practice that configuration is rare.

Dell, Intel and Microsoft long have promised that their products would be simpler to use and less expensive than current high-end server systems such as Sun Microsystems' Unix computers. However, in making Windows servers more powerful, the allies have found they must adopt many of the same technologies and practices that raise the cost of Unix systems. Reducing crashes requires carefully tested software, limited hardware configurations and tight control over the addition of new software.

But the pressure on the Unix server market--led by Sun, Hewlett-Packard and IBM--is increasing. Windows has a large installed base, and servers from companies such as Unisys and IBM are growing more powerful with each year.