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HP in deal with CacheFlow to boost servers

The computer and printer giant bolsters its server computer line, signing a deal to sell systems designed by CacheFlow and upgrading its own Unix servers.

Hewlett-Packard said today it has bolstered its server computer line, signing a deal to sell systems designed by CacheFlow and upgrading its own Unix servers.

Selling servers is booming business as companies race to build Internet sites and services. Though HP last week said its Unix server sales are improving, Sun Microsystems is generally acknowledged as the company to beat.

HP today upgraded its midrange N-class Unix servers, giving them a faster PA-RISC 8600 CPU, the ability to use more memory and faster speeds for transferring information within the computer. In addition, in January, HP upgraded its top-end V-class Unix servers with the 8600 chip.

The new N-class model is expected to be available Wednesday at a minimum price of about $67,000.

In addition, HP signed a deal to sell special-purpose servers made by CacheFlow. The servers are used to boost the speed that information is transferred over the Internet by stashing information closer to the user requesting the information. Selling caching servers has been lucrative business for Network Appliance, Inktomi and others.

As a part of the deal with CacheFlow, HP will get access to the smaller company's CacheOS software for use on its own hardware designs, the companies said. HP will resell the CacheFlow computers through the HP complementary products (HPCP) organization.

Special-purpose "server appliances,Compaq joins server appliance market" which are tuned to do a specific task more easily or more cheaply than general-purpose servers, is a growing business. Many companies, including HP, IBM, Compaq and Dell, have relied on products from other firms to jump-start their server appliance efforts.

HP will be adding many new server appliances to its product line, said Les Wilson, HP's worldwide mission-critical solutions manager, in an earlier interview. Other products likely will include computers that can act as a protective firewall to keep intruders out of company networks, virtual private networking servers to set up encrypted communications channels and Web servers to deliver Web pages to browsers.

The new high-end V-class server, the V-2600, offers a performance gain of about 15 to 20 percent over the previous top-end V-2500 machine, Wilson said. Though prices begin at $240,000, the more typical price tag will be between $600,000 and $800,000, with some customers paying more than $1 million, he said