Compaq Alpha Servers are enterprise-class operating systems targeted to business, education and government organizations. They are known for their reliability, application availability, performance, simplified management and flexibility.
Thermal issues are one of the biggest concerns with large computers and the Alpha Server is no exception. The server is cooled with several fans and airflow is a big challenge. The PI team needed to construct the housing with a front panel that was as open as possible. This made it difficult to design any sort of aesthetics into this area as it needed to remain open in order to facilitate cooling. To address this challenge an almost fully-louvered front was designed; the user can direct air up or down, and the server now has some frontage and visual front surface which focuses attention on the user interface panels. These large frontal doors are made up of multiple smaller pieces that are integrated together to look continuous: this saves tooling dollars and creates an interesting visual with needed airflow.
The blend of aesthetics, functionality and cost savings allowed the Alpha Server to remain a viable product line for Compaq, and eventually Hewlett-Packard, for many years.