Sun broadens product reach

Sun Microsystems has launched the first of its server products based on the 32-/64-bit Opteron processor, borne of a partnership Sun announced with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) less than three months ago. Sun also took the wraps of five new Unix servers, all leveraging the multi-threading technology in the new UltraSPARC IV processor and announced the availability of Solaris 10, the latest iteration of the vendor’s Unix operating system.

The Opteron-based v20z is one of more than half-a-dozen new servers introduced as part of Sun’s quarterly news announcement. The 1U dual processor box, which will be generally available next month, starts at $4655 for a single processor configuration.

Director of partner and product sales at Sun Microsystems Australia, Paul O’Connor, said the product was being positioned as a cheaper alternative to the Opteron-based servers released by IBM.

The v20z supports both Red Hat and SuSE Linux, Sun’s own Solaris, and is now also Windows certified.

Product manager for Sun’s server group in Australia, Rob Becker, said that while Sun was not providing support for Microsoft licenses, users of the v20z would be able to reprovision servers to Microsoft should they feel the need to change their operating system (OS) strategy.

The Windows certification merely gave the end-user more choices for that particular product, he said.

O’Connor said that partners and users would be driven by the migration path that Opteron afforded users that were moving from 32-bit to 64-bit computing.

In the high-end and midrange, Sun rolled out a new line of Unix servers, all powered by the chip multi-threading technology of the new UltraSPARC IV processor. The processors are compatible with the UltraSPARC III so users can run both generations in a single box.

“You can even run them together with different operating systems Solaris 8, Solaris 9 and Solaris 10. So people can literally double the performance of their data centres over lunch,” Sun’s senior vice-president of global market strategy, Larry Singer, said.

O’Connor described the new SunFire servers as the most significant refresh of Sun’s Unix server line in ten years. “It is an extreme makeover for the data centre with no disruption to operations,” he said. “You can double the performance without any change to applications or operating systems.”

The five new servers run the gamut from four-way servers to a system with 72 UltraSparc IV processors. They cost between $US98,955 and $US825,000, and will be rolled out over the next few months. Authorised data centre partners would not require any additional training or certification to sell and implement the new products, O’Connor said.

“The announcements reflect a significant broadening of our product portfolio,” O’Connor said. “Our increasing focus on the volume end of the market will bring about some enhancements to our channel model.”

Finally the vendor announced several software updates, a rounding out of its blade server line, and the publishing of free best-practice reference architectures.

These architecture guides cover the implementation of Sun infrastructure coupled with software from companies such as Oracle, i2 and Sybase, as well as case studies from implementations of enterprise messaging systems based on Sun architecture, and a secure network access platform architecture based on a recent roll-out of Sun-Ray thin clients for the US Navy.