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Enterprise 10000 offers scalability, redundancy, power

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Seen by some analysts as an alternative to the mainframe, Enterprise 10000 from Sun Microsystems Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., walked away with top honors in the server category of Datamation’s 1998 Product of the Year poll.

The Enterprise 10000 server received 196, or 26%, of the 741 votes cast in the server category. The second and third positions are held by the ProLiant 7000 Pentium II Xeon 400Mhz machine from Compaq Computer Corp., of Houston, and the PowerEdge 6350 server from Dell Computer Corp., of Round Rock, Texas, with 152 votes (20.5%) and 149 votes (20.1%), respectively.

The fourth- and fifth-place finishers are NetServer LH 4R from Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, with 123 votes (17%) and S/390 G5 Parallel Enterprise Server from IBM Corp., of Armonk, N.Y., with 101 votes (14%).

The Enterprise 10000 server offers businesses a mainframe alternative in a UNIX OLTP box, with many advantages, says analyst Dave Vellante, of Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. “The machine is fast, and customer benefits include making it easy for companies to consolidate application resources, easy management, and cost savings,” he says.

Moving to a Sun platform gave the university a scalable, upgradable, and reliable solution
–University of Utah’s Tim Ma

Early last year Sun made available for its midrange and high-end servers (such as the Enterprise 10000) a new 336MHz UltraSparc processor module with a 4MB external cache. The availability of faster processors is part of Sun’s strategy to provide an upgrade path for existing customers and to help them leverage their investments in technology, according to company officials.

The Enterprise 10000 server, also known as Starfire, was designed for large-scale, mission-critical applications. The foundation of the Enterprise 10000 is Sun’s Dynamic System Domain architecture, which was designed for enterprise scalability–IT managers can add processors, memory, and I/O. The Starfire utilizes the Gigaplane-XB interconnect, which is designed for fast, uniform, conflict-free memory access and is suitable for transaction processing, data warehousing, decision support, LAN consolidation, and file serving, according to company statements.

Redundancy is great/Redundancy is great

Last year, the Center for High Performance Computing at the University of Utah purchased an Enterprise 10000 server that is used for research and heavy number-crunching. According to Tim Ma, system administrator, the main feature that made the Enterprise 10000 attractive was redundancy. “We can take down various portions of the machine without impacting the entire machine,” says Ma, in Salt Lake City. For mission-critical applications, up-time is everything, he adds.

Prior to purchasing the Enterprise 10000, the center relied on an IBM/AIX system. Moving to a Sun platform gave the university a scalable, upgradable, and reliable solution, Ma says. The current configuration of the server–six processor boards–utilizes less than half of the system’s capacity, which is 16 system boards, so the center has plenty of room to grow.

The university’s Administrative Computing Services, known as ACS, also has adopted the Enterprise 10000 server platform to ensure that the entire campus runs smoothly. Long-term scalability was the key feature in ACS’ selection of the high-end Sun server platform instead of an IBM mainframe, according to ACS officials.
–Lynn Haber

Lynn Haber reports on IT and business technology issues from Norwell, Mass. She can be reached at

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