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Compaq changes server line strategy

The computer maker realigns its popular ProLiant server line to better position it in the changing market as it looks to regain a piece of the action.

Compaq Computer has realigned its popular ProLiant server line to better position it in the changing market as it looks to regain a piece of the action.

The move is the first major change to the ProLiant line since Compaq introduced eight-way Pentium III Xeon models in August. The change could help Compaq recover worldwide server market share lost to Hewlett-Packard in the third quarter.

Brad Anderson, Compaq's vice president of corporate and SMB servers, laid out the revised server strategy, which involves "bringing the latest, coolest leading-edge innovations" to market.

As with other recent product revamps, such as the introduction of iPaq and new Armada notebooks, Compaq executives delivered a message of simplicity and connectivity. The new ProLiant servers are part of "the radical simplification of the entire lifecycle experience" and are "optimized for the evolving demands of the new Internet environment," Anderson said.

Three model types will make up the new ProLiant line: the DL, ML and CL. The DL line is designed for customers such as Internet service providers (ISPs) and application service providers (ASPs) that need high-performance computing in a small package. ProLiant DL servers will only be available in rack-mount models.

"The ProLiant line has been realigned and extended to the needs of the new enterprise, first driven by the explosive growth of ISPs, ASPs and server farms," Anderson said.

The ProLiant ML line is made up of more typical servers designed for remote and branch offices and will be Compaq?s "bread and butter" server, Anderson said.

"It's a good move that Compaq did this," said Aberdeen Group analyst James Gruener. "The feedback I get from their customers is their product line is too confusing." Gruener warned that 2000 could be a tumultuous time for PC servers and "Compaq did right by proactively realigning a successful product line."

Compaq will begin offering DL and ML ProLiant models on Monday. New servers include the ProLiant DL380, which replaces the ProLiant 1850R, and the ProLiant ML350 and ML370, respectively replacing the ProLiant 800 and 1600.

Another model, the ProLiant ML530, which replaces the ProLiant 3000, is Compaq's first two-processor 800-MHz Pentium III Xeon server.

Compaq will also offer a series of service packages, which it calls CarePaqs, for sale with each of the new servers. CarePaqs start with support available during business hours extending to tailored service and support available 24 hours a day.

Entry-level services cost $500 and $1,195, respectively, for the ProLiant ML350 and ML530, reaching $11,000 and $14,940, respectively, for Executive Priority service.