Acer, MPC Set Server Sights on Enterprise

Offerings to include rack-mounted systems.

Acer America Corp. is looking to expand beyond PCs and laptops and re-establish itself in the more lucrative server and storage space with new rack-mounted systems and storage devices.

The Altos R300, a rack-mounted 1U (1.75-inch) server, is a one-way system powered by Intel Corp.s Pentium 4 chip running at speeds up to 3.06GHz, said officials at the San Jose, Calif., company.

The unit, due this week, is priced starting at $1,600 and is targeted at midsize companies, although officials said several servers can be tied together into a Linux cluster to deliver high-performance capabilities.

The company this summer will add to that line the 2U (3.5-inch-high), two-way R700, based on Intel Xeon chips.

Later this year or early next year, Acer will ship the Altos S300 and S700 storage devices, officials said.

Acers parent company sells the systems in Europe and Asia, but this will be the first time the companys rack-mounted and storage devices are introduced to North America.

The moves represent a growing trend among PC makers, including Gateway Inc. and MPC Computers LLC, to branch out beyond the desktop.

According to some IT administrators and industry observers, it is not yet clear whether the companies can grow beyond their installed base of PC customers.

"Were running all of our mission-critical stuff on our [Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq] servers," said Roy Cashman, CIO for RUAN Transportation Management Systems Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa. "We would not take a chance on a niche player ... who didnt have a market presence."

But that installed base could be the place to establish a presence. The State Journal-Register, a Springfield, Ill., newspaper, has been an MPC PC customer for almost four years.

Based on that history, the paper this year began buying servers from the Nampa, Idaho, company and will consider its storage equipment when the need arises.

MPC last week rolled out its first two storage offerings, the DataFrame 310fc Fibre Channel product and a SCSI counterpart, the 310s.

"From this point on, its virtually 100 percent MPC in this building," said Terry Claypool, IS operations manager. "They work very hard to keep our business, both with price and service."