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Sun Bolsters N1 with New Servers and Storage Systems

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Sun Microsystems Tuesday announced the latest updates to its quarterly product and services portfolio with a focus on storage and managing the networks that serve them.

Among a laundry list of releases, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker unveiled its N1 Data Platform — the latest piece of the company’s provisioning puzzle — along with new StorEdge 6000 family units and two new entry-level Sun Fire servers.

“This is round two for delivering a network computer,” proclaims CEO Scott McNealy. “Every customer I talk to is frustrated with buying piston rings, carburetors, and crankshafts. They’re more interested in buying the car. And so every three months, we do half a billion dollars of R&D and launch a new car model.”

The upgrades are designed to compete with Sun rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard , which are also working on computing-on-demand-style networking architectures.

Back in February, Sun began its quarterly update release schedule, which at the time included the launch of its Sun Fire V1280 as well as its first blade servers.

The latest developments center on filling in the holes in its N1 platform. The technology was developed courtesy of Sun’s acquisition last year of Acton, Mass.-based startup Pirus. The platform lets administrators plug servers, storage, and other devices into a network, and configure and manage them through a central area. Sun is marketing the N1 platform to larger sectors like telecommunications, financial services, manufacturing, and ultimately the government. Sun also acquired Fremont, Calif.-based Terraspring last year to help build its N1 strategy.

Starting at USD$112,600, the N1 Data Platform is a standalone box that includes virtualization software, unlimited use point-in-time software, secure domain capability, an on-site two year warranty, and full Sun Services implementation engagement.

“Sun is delivering on the promise of N1 while other vendors deliver nothing but hype. Today we are bringing to market solutions that provide open storage management, as well as virtualization and provisioning capabilities,” says Sun Network Storage executive vice president Mark Canepa.

New Additions to the StorEdge Family

Keeping with the storage theme, Sun also introduced the first two members of its StorEdge 6000 family — the Sun StorEdge 6120 array and the Sun StorEdge 6320 system. The midrange products come with corresponding data services and SAN management software.

The Sun StorEdge 6120 array starts at USD$24,300 (list price). The Sun StorEdge 6320 System takes up a whole rack and starts at USD$67,600. Both feature CIM standard-compliant arrays; LUN and SAN management, path failover, and load balancing software; and Solaris point-in-time, remote replication. Sun says the products will be available this month.

To assist the storage offerings, Sun announced an upgrade to its StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager (ESM). Version 1.2 builds on previous incarnations with added SAN management, configuration management, and health management capabilities. The software starts at USD$15,000 (list) per terabyte and is available now. The company has also released version 7.0 of its Sun StorEdge Back-up Software. The USD$2,600 platform will be available later this month and has been tweaked to now incorporate N1-like features, including centralized data protection and management across heterogeneous environments.

“With this announcement, Sun’s storage strategy becomes consistent with Sun’s overall strategy of offering customers integrated, pre-tested, and open solutions,” states Randy Kerns, Senior Partner at Evaluator Group. “Providing software stacks with hardware purchases is part of a bold strategy Sun is making on all fronts, allowing customers to more easily purchase complete solutions. It is encouraging that Sun is extending this strategy to the storage market.”

“Jalapenos” on Fire

To help power the networks, Sun Tuesday took the wraps off of a handful of new servers, including two entry-level Sun Fire boxes that will become officially available in late May.

The new Sun Fire V210 starts at USD$2,995. Sun says the thin server is best for use in Web infrastructure environments and technical computing farms. Its sister server — the Sun Fire V240 — offers what Sun calls “datacenter-class, rack-optimized” options and should retail for USD$3,495.

Also new in the server family are improved Sun Fire 280R Server (USD$7,995-$19,995), Netra 20 Server (USD$11,495), and Sun Blade 2000 systems (USD$9,995). The boxes come with the new 1.2 GHz UltraSPARC III Cu processor (code-named Jalapeno) and are expected to ship on April 30, 2003.

With an eye towards protection, Sun said its has made its new Auto Diagnosis and Recovery tool available for download. The freeware tool helps monitor system health and provides warnings of system failures. Sun said the software would originally be available for the Sun Fire 3800, 4800, and 6800 servers on April 25, 2003, and for the Sun Fire 12K and 15K later this calendar year.

With Trusted Solaris 8 HW 12/02, Sun is entering a new realm. Previously designed for military-grade use, Sun said it would offer two new editions of Trusted Solaris: Standard and Certified. The Standard Edition includes all the basic security functions and is ideal for environments that do not require accredited installations. The Certified Edition is certified to Common Criteria requirements and is optimized for environments that require accredited installations. Pricing starts at $999 for the Standard Edition desktop and $2,495 for the Certified Edition. Trusted Solaris 8 HW 12/02 is scheduled to ship in the spring and will be available on both SPARC and x86 systems.

Sun also made changes to its Infrastructure Solutions platform which include expanding its e-mail support beyond Lotus notes to Microsoft Outlook and Sun One mail. The upgrade also includes support for the Liberty alliance protocols and for Federated Identity Management.

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