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Dell, Compaq fight for corporate market

The companies work to make their products more appealing to large firms as they battle to win customers for new storage systems.

Compaq and Dell this week took steps to make their products more appealing to large companies as they battle to win customers for new storage systems, the guts of corporate computer systems.

Dell Computer expanded the types of PowerVault disk systems it sells and added a tape library system that supports bigger customers. A tape library serves to restore lost data, or reconcile erroneous data, after a system failure.

Dell also added a new PowerEdge server, the 4350, a Pentium II-based system designed to be bolted up to ten at a time into racks.

Compaq, meanwhile, introduced its "Enterprise Network Storage Architecture" (ENSA), an effort to separate information storage systems from the servers in a corporate network, making the storage easier to manage. The goal is to hide some of the gory details of storage management for users.

Compaq and Dell both are fighting for customers in big business and see storage as one way to achieve that end as big companies try to stay on top of ever-expanding data storage demands. Dell founded a storage division last summer and has been beefing up its PowerVault storage products ever since.

Compaq, which bought a much more serious corporate presence with its acquisition of Digital Equipment, also has been expanding its storage offerings, including products that plug into the Fibre Channel system designed for high-speed, robust storage.

Dell, which sells its products directly to customers, has been eating into Compaq's market share, and Compaq has begun fighting back with a direct sales effort of its own, supplementing its sales through retail channels.

Compaq also has begun selling a Windows NT version of a server designed for telecommunications customers across the world. The DECss7 server, which Compaq picked up when it acquired Digital, has been running with Compaq's Digital Unix and OpenVMS operating systems worldwide, but until now, the Windows NT version was for sale only in the United States, said Compaq spokesman Tom Madden.

The Intel-based version of the DECss7 system can run on a single machine or as many as 100 ganged together. DECss7 systems can handle several telecommunications tasks.