Opteron Could Bridge 64-Bit Gap for SMBsBy John Moore | Posted 2004-07-16 Email Print
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Opinion: In providing a 64-bit transition vehicle for 32-bit users, Opteron may emerge as an valuable "general-purpose platform" for SMBs, Contract Watch columnist John Moore finds.The most disruptive IT trends in 64-bit computing are occurring not at the high end of the market, but rather on the "low and middle ground."
That's the view of a recent report from The Sageza Group, a technology market analysis firm. Charles King, the report's author and research director at Sageza, contends that the key developments in 64-bit computing have been "sparked by processors that can natively support mixed 32- and 64-bit environments."
He cites IBM's Power 970 processor as the first of those innovations. But King sees AMD's Opteron processor, launched in April 2003 and employing x86 chip technologies with 64-bit extensions, as the most influential of such hybrid solutions thus far.
And in providing a 64-bit transition vehicle for 32-bit users, Opteron may emerge as an important "general-purpose platform" for SMBs (small and midsized businesses), according to King.
This brings us to the channel question. What role will resellers and integrators play in a 64-bit computing market, where formerly high-end solutions may become feasible for SMB customers?
King says he hasn't seen any OEM or vendor specifically address this issue. Yet the involvement of AMD's OEMs and their partner networks may prove a significant factor.
"How AMD's OEM partners promote Opteron in the market will be critical to its success, and some of those players have a larger SMB presence/channel than others do," King said.
"I think HP has a real opportunity here, both because it has been aggressive in promoting Opteron as a general-purpose computing platform and that the company has had a good deal of success in offering bundled solutions," King says. "IBM has been pressing forward in the SMB space, and it would be interesting to see if [and] how they deliver Opteron solutions."
But the real issue, in King's opinion, will be whether channel dealers and integrators view Opteron as a way to leverage new business.
"Right now, with Microsoft's 64-bit Opteron/EM64T OS still a few months away, Opteron's purely a 32-bit or Linux play, so many channel and SI playerswho tend to be pretty conservative in their business approachmay currently see it as more experimental than practical," King said. "I would expect that to change as more commercial 64-bit options become available and Opteron's value as a migration platform becomes increasingly evident."
Resellers and integrators enjoy an advisory role with their smaller customers, who have little time and scant personnel to scour the computing landscape for emerging technology. So, channel players may prove pivotal in advancing 64-bit extensions among SMBs. Whether they do so remains to be seen, but it's a development that bears watching.
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