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Acer embiggens server and storage range

It's gonna play in the mainstream SMB and HPC markets

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Storage to server connectivity options will include Fibre Channel, iSCSI and, for HPC, InfiniBand. Channel partners can source the intervening connectivity themselves from suppliers such as Brocade and QLogic. Acer is working with Arista and Intel on 10gigE end-points and switches, and with QLogic on its InfiniBand switches and HCAs.

Degliesposti said Acer was also partnering with Panasas for HPC parallel file system storage applications. Customers needing the low latency access of flash will be offered Intel X25 solid state drives (SSDs), Hitachi AMS storage having such SSDs in their roadmap. Panasas is also looking to use these SSDs. He said both are waiting on Samsung and on Intel enlarging X25 capacity with its move to the next process geometry in the middle of 2010.

The announcement event had a strong Microsoft Windows and Hyper-V focus, with a video contribution from Steve Ballmer. Asked if Acer was ignoring VMware, Degliesposti said: "We are not avoiding VMware, absolutely not. VMware is more for big enterprise. It's not left out intentionally for this. We're going to deploy that."

Reflecting its lack of HPC market presence Acer/Gateway will offer a series of tools, including bid management, demonstration programs, and HPC competency centres to support its channel. Acer will create dedicated HPC Competency Centres worldwide to help customers to investigate and develop HPC systems.

The first competency centre will be located at the University of Pisa in early 2010. Acer will also create a global HPC Advisory Council. The existing Gateway Partner program will include the new server and storage portfolio, and allow access to Intel, Microsoft and HDS expertise.

Acer has been working with HDS for some time. It launched its Acer Hitachi Storage AMS2100 as a mid-range SMB storage line in February this year, prefiguring today's announcement. The AMS product range is HDS' twin controller, modular storage array.

This followed on from the Acer-Hitachi Simple Modular Storage 100 product introduced in September 2008, a low-end offering. Acer also resells the Workgroup Modular Storage 100 line.

This means Acer was reselling three out of the four HDS storage lines before today, but not into the mainstream SMB market and certainly not into the HPC market.

The HPC servers and storage products are available now. All the other products will be available in the first quarter of next year. Prices have not yet been decided.

With this announcement Acer is serving notice on Dell, HP and IBM that it is turning the capabilities of its formidable channel onto the HPC market, a probably unexpected entry, and fully on the mainstream SMB market with, it is convinced, a more channel friendly offer. Degliesposti said that Dell and HP, for example, often steal or capture the channel's end customers: "Acer… will not steal their customers." ®

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