With some $14 billion in revenue up for grabs by 2004, according to Gartner forecasts, the market for server appliances will continue to be red hot.
This fact explains the seemingly daily server product announcements stoked by manufacturers anxious to provide systems for the booming Internet and application services markets.
Yet will these new devices displace the bulk of the general-purpose server sales? And will the new players successfully challenge the five server giants--Compaq Computer, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer and Sun Microsystems?
Net service providers have migrated toward server appliances, as the hardware combines application software and hardware and is easy to install and maintain--unlike general-purpose servers.
However, server appliances aren't expected to be a threat to midrange and high-end application servers and database servers. Server appliances increasingly will act as front-end server, especially for tasks such as load balancing, caching and Web serving. Midrange application servers and back-end database servers will likely continue to require the cutting-edge CPU power and functionality that typically reside in general-purpose servers.
Network-attached storage (NAS) products--especially rack-mount, highly scalable products with data management software embedded--will increasingly affect the sales of direct attached storage (known as RAID arrays), as well as general-purpose file servers. NAS products, such as low-end Maxtor MaxAttach and high-end Network Appliance products, have started to consolidate traditional RAID arrays at ISP sites. They also offer application and database servers a more efficient storage pool.
(For related commentary on installation of network appliances, see TechRepublic.com - free registration required.)
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