After taking a beating in the IT marketplace last year, Sun Microsystems
is staging a comeback with an overhaul
of its hardware and software lineups.
As part of its quarterly mass product announcement ritual, the Santa
Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker Tuesday is expected to announce
some 25 individual additions to its product with an emphasis on scaling – as
in up with high performance UltraSPARC IV chips running on a new Sun
Fire E-series and out with the addition of low-cost servers built on
AMD’s Opteron processors. They are wrapped within the framework of Sun’s Solaris
10 platform and its “N1” utility computing infrastructure.
The company is
also releasing its second incarnation of Sun Java Enterprise System, and
five new Reference Architectures and Solutions, which the company said serve
as blueprints for Sun customers, compiled by Sun customers.
“We’re moving from a server company to an IT infrastructure company,”
Larry Singer, Sun senior vice president of Global Market Strategies, told
internetnews.com. “If we can drive down the cost of IT, that benefits
all of us. It does hurt some of our competition quite a bit, and others, it
doesn’t hurt as much.”
The company could use a little help from its friends and customers. Sun
recently suffered through its 11th straight quarterly loss. However, that
luck may change courtesy of Sun’s newfound friendship
. Sun said it is padding its volume server
lineup with its first Sun Fire system with the Opteron processor running
32-bit and 64-bit applications, including the Java Enterprise System, on
Solaris and Linux systems. Starting at USD$2,795, the Sun Fire V20z server
is a 2P, 1U box that the company said will go out to select customers on
February 26 and for general availability after March 26.
IDC research vice president Jean Bozman said Sun is positioning itself
with the refresh so that whichever way IT budgets go, the company will
be able to take advantage of that momentum more than they have in the past
“In our third quarter statistics for 2003, volume servers accounted for
9.9 percent revenue and overall revenue for the category grew worldwide,”
Bozman said. “With volume servers, Sun is trying to hit more of the price
performance points and tapping into that opportunity.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sun is introducing new Sun Fire
E2900, E4900, E6900, E20K and E25K servers, all powered by its UltraSPARC IV
processors (previously code-named Amazon). The 4-way and above servers are
expected to be marketed to high performance customers and include Java
Enterprise System and come with multithreading support within the Solaris
operating system, Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP)
and the Sun Net Connect remote monitoring service.
Sun is also offering its Sun Fire V210 and V240 servers with the
long-awaited dual x86 Xeon processor. The company is also looking at selling
some of its Sun Fire B200x Blade Servers; Netra 240 AC Servers; the
SX200S-X10 (a.k.a. the Sun Ray 1G motherboard); Sun’s XVR-600 Graphics
Accelerator; and its Crypto Accelerator for 4000 v1.1
Helping run all of these servers in concert, Sun said its new N1
(USD$3,920) Grid Provisioning Server software version 3.1 — or Blades
Edition — is ready to aid systems designed for the Sun Fire B1600 blade
platform. The company said the management software lets users design,
configure, provision, and scale, blade-based server farms automatically.
“The blade environment is an example of how you can apply that system
management software and enter into a microcosm,” Bozman said.
On the software side, Sun is fastidiously preparing Solaris 10 for an
official launch date just before the end of this year. As previously
reported”, Solaris 10 will include N1 Grid Containers, predictive
Self-Healing technologies and security enhancements. The next-generation
operating environment will also serve as the inflection point between
Solaris and Trusted Solaris, giving enterprise customers the same security
features as Sun’s government customers. While the company continues to test
new additions with its Solaris Express program, company execs were fuzzy on
the exact cutoff date to make the final version of Solaris 10.
After getting feedback from partners and customers, Sun has come up with
five new Reference Architectures and Solutions. The company said the
software will serve as a roadmap in which future customers can benefit from
the experiences of previous Sun partners.
The list includes Sun’s Spare Parts Planner Reference Architecture, which
will serve as a precursor for RFID tags, inventory management tools; a
Messaging Referencing Architecture for Oracle’s collaboration suite; Data
Warehouse Reference Architectures; Enterprise Messaging, and Sun’s Secure
Sun is also updating its Sun Java Enterprise System. The company said it
is making its Java Enterprise platform compatible for Red Hat’s 32-bit
applications. Still priced at $100 per employee per year, the second edition
will be available next quarter, concurrently with the upcoming Solaris 9
4/04 OS release. The platform (formerly known as Project Orion) has also
added in capabilities from Sun’s Java System Portal Server Mobile Access
platform. The augmented software includes support for portal wireless
access. Users can reuse existing applications, content and services by
dynamically rendering and delivering information to any mobile device such
as cell phones, PDAs, and smart phones.
The company has also updated its toolbox with the heralding of the latest
NetBeans platform later this year. In version 3.6, Sun has added its Java
Studio Enterprise, Sun Studio Creator, and Sun Java Studio 8. Sun also said
its Java Studio Creator (formerly Project Rave) is now in an early access
phase and is on tap for full release later this year.