Compaq Targets Departmental Computer Users

The government market is hungry for remote office server technology

Compaq Computer Corp. added another link in its expanding line of computer servers earlier this week with the rollout of a server designed to fill the gap between the vendor's burgeoning enterprise server ambitions and its small business Prosignia line.

The Proliant 2500, expected to anchor the Houston-based computer maker's position within the remote office and departmental computing environment, will further buttress the computer maker's plan to move beyond personal computer manufacturing, Compaq executives said.

"What's changing [at Compaq] is that while designing computers is at the core of our organization, the new focus is on the ability to provide complete solutions to customers," said John Young, director of product marketing and business operations for Compaq's server product division. Young said departmental computer users have become a fast-growing segment inside the server market and required greater computing power than offered by the vendor's Proliant 1500 line of servers. That power is now being generated by Intel Corp.'s Pentium Pro processor.

"We expect that when our Proliant 1500 customers become comfortable with the Pentium Pro technology they will want to quickly evolve to the 2500," said Young, who believes the migration will accelerate during the first quarter of 1997.

According to analysts, the manufacturer's new server products will fill a sizable hole in Compaq's computing infrastructure and move the company closer to Compaq Chairman Eckhard Pfieffer's vision of moving beyond PC manufacturing and becoming a full-line information technology company.

Compaq now claims to be the largest supplier of server technology to the federal government.

"When you take a look at government and the new CIOs who are charged with building enterprises and determining 'best practices' for their agencies, we now have a more compelling story when server architecture is a concern," said Gary Newgaard, Compaq's director of federal sales.

"You take a look at our [government] contract portfolio and it is dominated by server products and this is being enhanced every month," said Newgaard, who believes availability issues are not likely to hinder the Proliant 2500 rollout. Newgaard said the computer maker was currently working with Hughes Data Systems Corp., Los Angeles, and Government Technology Services Inc., Chantilly, Va., on a number of technology refresh opportunities.

Besides advancing its server strategy, the computer maker is now planning to go head-to-head against Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. with a line of workstations. The new hardware will challenge Sun's RISC-based SPARCstations and HP's new Vectra XW and Visualize line.

Compaq is also beefing up its services offerings. While the company's management in the past has dismissed assertions that it plans to build a consulting and integration arm, the computer maker has been busy making significant investments in its worldwide services infrastructure.

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