has taken the last of its Cobalt line of server appliances off the shelves.
Server appliances were highly regarded at one time. The appliance movement rose out of demands for integrated hardware/software solutions and the move to standardize software workloads, server components and hardware.
Analysts predicted the market for the machines that would sit in data centers and serve e-mail, gateways and databases would shatter the billion-dollar mark. In May 2001, research firm IDC said the market for server appliances would top $31.4 billion by 2005.
But once the IT sector became mired in the throes of a lagging economy, the microwave-sized gadgets became considered a symbol of the excess production of the Internet boom. Corporations refused to fork over cash for the petite servers, which ranged from $500 to $1,000.
In Sun's case, the company had hoped Cobalt would help expand its Linux offerings. The low-priced servers were designed to compete directly with similar software offerings from IBMand Microsoft.
Sun said in a statement that it's counting on its alliance with low-cost chip-maker AMDto provide competitive x86-based servers from its strong-selling Sun Fire line.
"Sun is strategically focused on delivering choice and performance to our customers, offering general purpose x86 servers that can run Solaris SPARC, Solaris x86 and Linux operating systems," the statement said.
Sun gave the end-of-life alert to Cobalt users in Q3 2003. The last order date for its last Cobalt product was November 20.
Cobalt was the keystone asset from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun's purchase of Cobalt Networks in a stock-for-stock deal worth about $2 billion.