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MCI teams with Intel for Web servers

Using technology supplied by Intel, MCI is jumping into the Web server market, a plan that AT&T is imitating by reselling equipment from Silicon Graphics.

MCI Communications announced today that is buying technology from Intel to build new Web server boxes, a deal followed quickly by the announcement of an alliance between AT&T and Silicon Graphics as both telcos grab for the growing Web services market.

MCI and Intel are working together to supply packages of Web server hardware and software to MCI for resale to the telco's customers. The Pentium Pro-based servers will be branded with the MCI name and will come with all the hardware and software necessary to make the Internet server system easy to set up. The servers will run Windows NT and are targeted at small to medium-sized businesses.

The MCI agreement indicates a significant change in strategy for Intel. The company now sees the Web server market--currently dominated by Unix systems based on RISC chips from companies such as Sun Microsystems--as a large market for its Pentium Pro platform. The company is telling customers like MCI that its Pentium Pro Internet servers will match or out-perform RISC-based systems and potentially beat them on price.

To follow through on its plan, Intel added the new Internet Technology Lab to the Intel Architecture Labs to develop the server.

AT&T meanwhile won't be selling its own branded Web server hardware, but will resell SGI servers already on the market. Using the SGI equipment, AT&T says it will be able to assemble complete turnkey packages comprising hardware, software and consulting. It will also work with SGI to provide Internet and intranet systems integration throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is the first time that AT&T has struck such a deal with a hardware manufacturer.