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Sun Servers Aim for Speed, Lower Data-Center Costs
Sun Servers Aim for Speed, Lower Data-Center Costs

By Jennifer LeClaire
April 14, 2009 2:20PM

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Sun Microsystems has introduced new Sun Fire x64 servers and Sun Blades in its Open Network Systems strategy for speed, simplicity and savings. The systems feature integrated networking, Flash-based solid-state disks, and Open Storage platforms. Sun pointed to faster response times, better throughput and less power consumption.

In the wake of a stalled IBM acquisition deal, Sun Microsystems on Tuesday unveiled new products and technologies in its Open Network Systems strategy. The products aim to maximize the economics of computing for data centers and clouds and include an advanced blades architecture, new networking technologies, and seven new systems based on the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series.

As John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's Systems Group, said today's IT customer is looking for three things -- speed, simplicity and savings. He said Sun's Open Network Systems approach offers all three: "Our new x64 systems with integrated networking technologies, advanced thermal management, open software, and (Sun) Open Storage enhancements will give the data center an extreme makeover, boosting efficiency and maximizing IT investment."

Speed, Simplicity, Savings

Sun said its approach uses "The Network is the Computer" as a guiding principle to integrate technologies such as Flash-based solid-state disks (SSDs) and Open Storage platforms for speed, integrated networking for simplicity, and advanced thermal management and the Solaris operating system for savings.

Sun is offering SSDs across all platforms and delivering systems with onboard Flash modules. These storage technologies help eliminate I/O bottlenecks and improve application performance. With SSD integration across software, systems and storage, Sun said customers can achieve up to 70 times faster response times, up to eight times better throughput, and up to 38 percent less power consumption than servers with traditional spinning hard disk drives.

Sun is also delivering low-latency, high-performance networking in its new Sun Fire x64 servers and Sun Blades. With Sun NEM technology for Sun Blade Modular Systems and servers, Sun said customers can reduce cost and complexity and simplify large-scale blade server deployments into existing network fabrics. Fire x64 products start at $1,488.

"We anticipate that the new high-performance capacity computing systems we are developing in partnership with Sun -- which make use of the new Intel Xeon 5500 series, onboard InfiniBand communication, Sun's new IB switches, and the innovative Sun cooling doors -- will provide us a tremendous increase in our space, power and cost efficiency," said Dr. Robert W. Leland, director of the computing center at Sandia National Laboratories.

IBM's Opportunity

Sun is taking a different approach to blades than Hewlett-Packard and IBM, according to Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. Although HP and IBM blades find their way into large installations -- both companies consistently rank on the top 500 list -- the companies also target small and midsize businesses. Sun focuses solely on large blade deployments. If IBM acquired Sun, it would open up new opportunities for Big Blue with Solaris.

"Clearly what is going to happen to Sun is the elephant in the room in any of these discussions, but Sun has to continue to operate as an ongoing business. Otherwise they might turn out the lights," Haff said. "You can debate particular areas of the product line and compare them with other vendors, but the fact is that Sun has a very respectable x86 lineup. The issue for Sun in x86 is around execution, around channels, partners, sales models, and so forth. That's really where Sun has fallen down."

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