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News about SPARC systems and related companies

2002, January week 4

See also:- article:-the Rise and Fall of the SPARC Workstation Market
article:- Looking Back on Sun's Cache Memory Problem
Squeak! - The Top 10 Storage Software Companies
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The Open Group
. "Sun believes that the creation of the ICSC is a significant event for The Open Group, for UNIX, and for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry," noted Greg Papadopoulos, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Sun Microsystems. "By combining the experience of The Open Group in managing large complex systems standardization activities with the technical experience and excellence of the members of the ICSC, the ICT industry gains a significant enhancement to the capabilities of the industry leading open UNIX Operating System."
The Open Group Announces Formation of The Interconnect Software Consortium

January 28, 2002 - San Francisco, CA- The Open Group today announced formation of the Interconnect Software Consortium (ICSC) to develop and promote specifications that will enable deployment of fast interconnects by providing full software compatibility across a range of media. Founding Members of the Consortium are Compaq, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Network Appliance, Sun Microsystems, and VIEO. The Open Group will provide standards process and infrastructure services for the ICSC.

"The Founding Members of the ICSC will lead the industry in developing software specifications that enable successful deployment of next-generation, fast interconnects, including the emerging InfiniBand™ specification," said Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group. "The Open Group is proud to demonstrate our strong commitment to the rapid uptake of such solutions by providing infrastructure services to the ICSC."

The ICSC will develop specifications, guidelines and compliance tests that software developers need to take advantage of the latest interconnect technologies. The specifications will include extensions to the Linux®/UNIX® Sockets API (Application Programming Interface) and an API that provides access to the full capabilities of the InfiniBand transport. These common APIs are essential for interoperability among the software products of the Consortium's members. The Open Group will provide its expertise in the operation of the standards process as well as provide the legal, administrative, membership and conference services for the consortium. ...The Open Group

See also:- Industry trade associations, InfiniBand
The Open Group Announces Formation of The Interconnect Software Consortium

SBE Inks Global OEM Agreement

Sun Opens Three New Storage Centers

Solaris 9 Early Access Software Now Available

Interphase 6535 CompactPCI T1/E1/J1 Telecommunications Controller Selected by Ericsson for use in Signaling Gateway

QLogic cPCI Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter Qualified by EMC as E-Lab Tested

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Spellabyte's disk duplicating process worked OK, but he wondered if in future, he should color code the barrels to avoid getting them mixed up. Color could be part of his added value

View from the Hill:

The Emerging Bright Spots in the SPARC market


Last year was the worst year in Sun's 20 year history. The combination of the IT recession, 9/11, and Sun's shooting itself in the foot with technical problems in its cache memory (thereby blowing away its hard won reliability image advantage over Wintel) and the slowness of developing faster SPARC processors could leave you with the false impression that all was doom and gloom in the SPARC systems market.

Not so.

Despite the computer industry having a bad time in 2001 (lowlights included the first ever year to year decline in PC shipments, and the biggest ever losses in the semiconductor market) there were a few bright spots emerging which you may have missed, if you thought Sun's fortunes were typical of the SPARC market as a whole.

  • The rackmount SPARC server segment continued showing double digit year on year revenue growth as customers turned to telco style packaging to reduce cost of ownership. This trend was also reported in the Intel architecture server market, and was a very fast growing segment for Dell Computer. Because rackmount configurations require a high degree of customisation and testing to meet specific user requirements, this is a segment that's not actually dominated by Sun, even though many (but not all) of the companies in this market area do use Sun motherboards. The "pile them high and ship them fast" strategy which worked so well for Sun in the boom dotcom days, doesn't work in this more conservative market segment.
  • The military SPARC market started apprehensively in 2001 as manufacturers and integrators expected to feel the cold winds of the budget cuts promised by the Bush administration finally working their way through to them. But 9/11 changed all that. Most integrators in this market have been reporting publicly (and privately) an upsurge in spending. For the US government national security has replaced tax cuts as the #1 priority, and the underinvestment in security and and defense during the last few years is now seen as a mistake. 2002 and beyond will see high growth rates for companies in this area.
  • The fault tolerant high-availability SPARC server market saw many companies reporting very high double digit revenue growth in 2001. Originally this was a niche segment within the telecom market, but I expect that this kind of system will branch out into the mainstream, and the whole segment could easily see 50% year on year growth in 2002. Although Sun has a toehold, it is really a bit player in this market. Nevertheless Sun benefits from supplying cPCI SPARC motherboards to some of the HA SPARC companies (although Force Computers actually ships more SPARC cPCI cards than Sun.)
  • The SPARC portable market, like the Intel portable market, has not seen the same down downturn experienced on the desktop. While figures are not available, we've seen a new entrant Naturetech coming in to challenge the market leader Tadpole-Cycle. Several other companies also have toeholds in this market, and if the desktop market continues to decline during 2002, we may see more viable alternatives appearing in a portable format.
Outside the SPARC market, other fast growing segments in the enterprise computing market included:-
  • Solid state disks (which many users are turning to, to speed up their SAN access). This segment saw a 500% year on year increase in buyer interest during 2001, and despite falling memory prices, many SSD makers reported high double digit revenue growth during that period. I expect this to accelerate during 2002, as more users become aware of the benefits of using this type of technology.
  • Many companies in the Tape library segment reported double digit revenue growth during 2001 while remaining profitable. Increasing volumes of digital data everywhere make libraries the most cost effective way of archiving network information.
  • The wildcard, and unexpected success story in 2001 was the huge surge in interest in iSCSI. The cutback on IT spending has made this look like an attractive option for mid range users who have not yet wired up with Fibre-channel. It offers the promise of getting some SAN functionality by leveraging existing IP networks. Capability is one thing, but performance is another. But many users will be happy to use the off-site disk synchronization offered by iSCSI and don't really need the faster performance of fibre-channel in their internal networks. There are few real products in this market, and many vendors have been taken by surprise by the speed with which this new concept has been picked up by the user community. If "interest" translates into "buying" then this will be one of the fastest growing product areas in 2002, and could do much to restore the sagging fortunes of Cisco and other IP switch makers.
And what about Sun?

Although, the prospects for many SPARC companies look good for 2002, Sun, like most large corporations will be slower than more nimble medium sized competitors to react to changing customer needs. It demonstrated its inability to do that in the fast growing network storage market in recent years, where despite its best efforts it has lost significant market share. It may be 2003 before Sun again reports quarterly revenues as good as its historic highs.

In 2001 Sun proved what many in the semiconductor market have been saying for years, that Sun's strength lies in writing C code, operating systems and compilers, and not in chip design. Unless Sun can cure the constipation in its chip design area to get faster products out the door, it will lose more enterprise server market share to the faster Intel chips.

This may be the best opportunity ever for Fujitsu to show its chip making prowess. The 2GHz SPARC chips are what the market is waiting for.
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SBE SBE Inks Global OEM Agreement

San Ramon, CA, January 24, 2002 - SBE Inc. today announced that it has signed an OEM Volume Purchase Agreement with a global provider of server appliances and anti-virus services, which enable secure and cost effective customer premises solutions to business and enterprise markets.

Under the terms of the agreement (valued at $1.4 million annually), SBE's wanADAPT-1TE1 adapter will be configured into anti-virus VPN routers and resold to ISPs, end users, and OEMs through international channels and US distributors including Ingram-Micro and Tech Data.

"Widely publicized incidents and increasing security concerns have spurred a rapid growth in demand for secure Internet, VPN, anti-virus and firewall appliance products," said Dan Grey, senior vice president of sales and marketing for SBE. "SBE's array of adapter products are enabling the high performance, scalable and low cost network security solutions required in today's business environment."

The SBE wanADAPT-1T1E1 with integrated CSU/DSU is an industry standard PCI card that provides direct high-speed access for connecting networks using T1 or E1 service. It delivers reliable high-performance WAN connectivity for telecommunications servers, switches, routers and broadband test equipment. ...SBE profile
Sun Microsystems Sun Opens Three New Storage Centers

SANTA CLARA, CA - January 23, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced today the opening of three new Sun Storage Centers designed to help customers develop and implement complete storage solutions. The new facilities, located in regions worldwide, will bring together at a Sun site the hardware, software and staff resources needed to architect, test and develop support for specific storage and SAN solutions. The Sun Storage Centers will offer the advantage of testing complex configurations without disrupting customer operations. By doing this, Sun's customers can gain the confidence that when systems are deployed they can be up and running quickly and more efficiently, helping to lower total costs.

The three centers are located in Denver, Colorado; Singapore; and the UK. In these centers, Sun's network storage experts, along with consultants from Sun Professional Services, specialists from Sun Support Services, and system engineers work together to develop the optimum solutions in the shortest possible time. Each center houses a variety of servers, storage devices, the most advanced Sun StorEdge systems and storage management software as well as best-of-breed partner products. Using a Sun Storage Center as the test bed minimizes the impact on customer datacenter operations and staff resources. ...Sun Microsystems profile

See also:- SAN - software, SAN training
Sun Microsystems Solaris 9 Early Access Software Now Available

SANTA CLARA, CA - Jan. 22, 2002 - Sun Microsystems today announced it is making available Solaris 9 Early Access software, introducing customers to new features available in its upcoming Solaris 9 Operating Environment(OE). Beginning today, customers can download Solaris 9 Early Access to explore new resource management capabilities; the integration of the iPlanet Directory Server; security enhancements; and new Linux APIs. The Solaris 9 Early Access software enables users to validate application compatibility with previous versions of Solaris and prepare integration schedules for the general release of Solaris 9 OE -- scheduled for the first half of 2002. Because of version compatibility, Solaris users can simply run their existing applications on Solaris 9.

  • Sun continues to add to the hundreds of open source commands, libraries and utilities that provide the ability to run Linux programs virtually unaltered on Solaris 9. Compatibility with Linux, grants Solaris users simplified access to thousands of open source applications.
  • Solaris 9 OE takes advantage of the newest hardware improvements and offerings from Sun, most importantly, the 900 Mhz UltraSPARC III support for Sun Fire 15K Server and other systems.
Solaris 9 Early Access is a free download for an unlimited number of systems with a capacity of eight or fewer CPUs. A media kit containing additional material is available as a DVD for $30 plus shipping and handling and on CDs for $45 plus shipping and handling. The general availability release of Solaris 9 OE is planned for the first half of 2002. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- as reported last year, Solaris 9 is expected to provide a performance boost if you've got Sun's 900MHz SPARC processors in your box.
Interphase Interphase 6535 CompactPCI T1/E1/J1 Telecommunications Controller Selected by Ericsson for use in Signaling Gateway

DALLAS, Texas - January 22, 2002 - Interphase Corporationtoday announced that Ericsson, Inc., has selected Interphase as its provider of CompactPCI® T1/E1/J1 controllers for use in Ericsson's Signaling System 7 (SS7) Signaling Gateway product.

The Interphase 6535 is the industry's most advanced controller for telecommunication systems based on the industry standard CompactPCI bus architecture. Ericsson will utilize the Signaling Gateway in SS7 transport solutions for wireline and wireless systems to support both narrowband and broadband SS7 services. Interphase was selected in a formal product selection process based on its ATM and SS7 technology leadership, advanced product capabilities, and responsive technical and customer service.

"Ericsson has captured one of the most dominant positions in the telecom arena, particularly in next generation wireless," said Interphase President and CEO, Greg Kalush. "Our 6535 is enabling Ericsson to deploy their design to market quickly and cost effectively. We are excited to work with them on this endeavor." ...Interphase profile

Editor's comments:- Ericsson is a huge Sun user, with over 10,000 SPARC systems in use in the 1990's.
QLogic QLogic cPCI Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter Qualified by EMC as E-Lab Tested

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - January 22, 2002 - QLogic today announced that EMC has qualified the QLogic SANblade cPCI Fibre Channel host bus adapter as "E-Lab Tested" for use in EMC Enterprise Storage Network environments running Solaris server platforms with its Symmetrix® information storage systems.

"With over $2 billion invested in equipment and resources, EMC is committed to qualify and test the industry's widest range of components for continuous interoperability across networked storage environments," said Chuck Hollis, vice president of markets and products at EMC. "EMC has completed its E-Lab Tested qualification of QLogic SANblade cPCI-Fibre Channel HBAs across all cPCI compatible Sun Fire server platforms, providing additional performance, flexibility and interoperability for complex SAN environments."

"We estimate that the Fibre Channel cPCI market will approach $100 million by 2004," said Mike Knudsen, vice president and general manager of QLogic's Computer Systems Group. "As the exclusive supplier of Sun's native 1Gb cPCI-to-Fibre Channel host bus adapters, QLogic has a great deal of experience in this growing marketplace. We're enthusiastic about adding cPCI solutions to the industry's only end-to-end portfolio of SAN infrastructure products." ...EMC profile, ...QLogic profile

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