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News about SPARC systems and related companies

2002, January week 5

See also:- article:- Emerging Bright Spots in the SPARC Systems Market
article:- Looking Back on Sun's Cache Memory Problem
Squeak! - The Top 10 Storage Software Companies
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AVCOM AVCOM Posts Profits for 2001

Silicon Valley, Calif. — January 31, 2002 — "Bad news sells newspapers," or so the saying goes. If that's true, newspapers must have sold like hotcakes amid the tech industry bust. However, that doesn't mean that all the news is bad. AVCOM managed to not only survive, but also prosper during 2001. In a year that saw numerous bankruptcies, the company remains not just alive, but solidly profitable.

"During the dot-com heyday, it was all about servers," Bishop said. "Today, our customers are concerned about business continuity, security, availability and scalability. We are responding with disaster recovery, storage solutions, maintenance contracts, security assessments and other solutions to answer these concerns."

The growing push toward services has been a key strategy for AVCOM since 2000. The company continues to build its practice-based services in the areas of storage, security and networks. Vice President of AVCOM’s Professional Services Group, Fred Scheck, says the company is very close to meeting its goal of a 50-50 mix of products and services. ...AVCOM profile
AVCOM Posts Profits for 2001

Gartner Dataquest Reports on the Server and Workstation Markets in 2001

LSI Logic Delivers High Performance ASIC Chipset to Sun Microsystems for New 8-Way Server

Revenues jump 83% in 2001 for T4 Consulting Group

California Digital Launches Linux Server Business

HP CEO Carly Fiorina Says Linux Ready for Breakout Year

Sun Supports Lineo Embedix to Run on UltraSPARC IIe

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NAS on
"The storage system is the computer" said Megabyte, misquoting something he'd heard when he was younger...

View From the Hill:- Differentiating Storage Appliances with Software and Services

ow many different ways can you sell a box with disk drives and a bunch of interfaces?

The future of most storage manufacturers depends on answering this question.

As the storage market gets bigger and standardisation sets in, many of the industry's pioneers risk being displaced by new entrants using consumer marketing techniques to commoditise products which were once seen as being specialised solutions. As we've seen in other markets, commoditization increases the size of the market by lowering prices for end users and making solutions affordable to more people (CDs being just one example), but along the way strong competition and learning curve pricing tactics mean that few vendors will make any profit.

One doomsday scenario for the storage market is that it will segment into about a dozen companies.

In this vision there will be one major company which dominates each major segment:- portable systems, desktop, and rackmount systems. Within each segment the market leader will have a dominant market share, and their competitors will have to fight it out for small niches such as higher performance, ruggedisation, or style factors like color...

Another view is that it will be like the PC market, with thousands of small manufacturers and a handful of big ones, and almost no one making any money.

You might ask the question:- How can you differentiate a storage appliance and make your product unique? (while being compatible with every relevant standard) and at the same time persuade a customer that it's worth spending more money on your box rather than Brand X which is 10% cheaper this week?

The answer to that lies in software and customer service.

Let's fast forward to 2004.

I want to buy a home entertainment system which will replace my current household mish-mash collection of Dell PC (through which I currently watch satellite TV, videos and DVD, and which has better speakers than my so called "hi-fi"). The new system also has to replace or work with various generations of Sony gadgets and MP3 players...

I'm busy and don't have much time, so I go to the web site of the Rodent Consumer Storage Box Company which lets me select whatever movies and music I want factory preloaded onto the box when I get it.

Click - maybe individual selections from the current top 100 DVDs and CDs - or maybe just an entire group like Arnold Schwarzenneger movies since Conan The Barbarian, or just a set of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. I'm running out of space to store individual CDs and books and DVDs in my house, and one day I'd like to reclaim my garage, so if I can buy a preloaded collection at a web discounted price of 50% then I probably won't bother looking for my favourite CD in my car, or my wife's car, or the office. I'll just click to get another copy on the new system. After a few clicks on the shopping trolley, I realise that the price of the 1 terabyte home entertainment storage box is just a small part of my total order. But then I think of all the money I saved by waiting another year before buying my plasma TV monitor, and hey, the recession ended last year... so what the heck!

Now you may think this is a little far fetched. And if you're the kind of person who buys PCs today without the operating system pre-installed, then this may not be for you. But think about the advantages for the rest of us...

  • the box company gains because their adverage selling price is 2 to 3 times higher than just the hardware on its own
  • the software companies gain because selling factory installed software reduces their losses from piracy, and has very little incremental cost
  • the customer gains, because they get most of what they really need in one go, and don't need to waste any time shopping around or installing software.

The same goes for NAS, SAN and other storage systems. In fact, if your company's backup is via iSCSI - you should probably be able to buy your new storage systems with your company data and applications already preloaded...The company which lets you do that first - will have all your attention.

A future in which diverse storage companies thrive while saving their customers money is indeed possible. The lowest cost hardware box may not be the winner in this particular race, if the marketing department can get their act together in time. This may even be a a good time to talk up that dotcom experience in your resumé. And as for the terabyte storage box in the home? Well maybe 2004 is a little too early, but it's coming..

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Gartner Gartner Dataquest Reports on the Server and Workstation Markets in 2001

SAN JOSE, Calif. - January 30, 2002 - in 2 press releases today Gartner Dataquest reported on workstation and server shipments in 2001. The results, below, are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner Dataquest's related research programs.
Sun Microsystems
2001 Unit Shipments
(Market Share)
Sun Microsystems
2000 Unit Shipments
(Market Share)
Workstations 283,298 (19.6%) 336,367 (20.7%) -15.8%
Servers 254,053 (5.8%) 289,231 (6.7%) -12.2%
Source:- Gartner, Inc.

The year 2001 marks the first time in the history of the workstation market that the industry experienced a decline in shipments from the previous year. Dell extended its lead as the No. 1 vendor in worldwide workstation shipments, as its market share grew to 32.4%. IBM was the only other top 5 vendor in 2001 to experience an increase in shipments from the previous year


The worldwide server market in 2001 experienced its lowest annual growth rate in unit shipments since 1996. Worldwide server shipments totaled 4.4 million in 2001, a 1.8% increase from 2000. Compaq remained in the top spot with 23.3% of the worldwide market share, followed by Dell and IBM, with 16.1% and 15%, respectively. Dell and IBM were the only vendors to record positive year-over-year growth. ...Gartner profile
LSI Logic LSI Logic Delivers High Performance ASIC Chipset to Sun Microsystems for New 8-Way Server

MILPITAS, Calif., Jan. 30 - LSI Logic Corporation today announced it is supplying high-performance I/O and system ASICs to Sun Microsystems for its 8-way Sun Fire V880 server family. LSI Logic's market-proven technologies and design expertise accelerated the successful development of this cost-effective, Right-First-Time ASIC chipset for Sun.

At the heart of the Sun designed chipset are two 1.2-million-gate ASICs. These host bridge ASICs each provide the UltraSPARC III system with a high-performance bus connection to dual 64-bit PCI and a high-speed Sun graphics interface. They connect to a high performance switched interconnect fabric, made up of an address repeater, a data control switch and 6 multi-port data crossbar switches, which can sustain an aggregate throughput of 9.6GB/s. ...LSI Logic profile
T4 Consulting Group Revenues jump 83% in 2001 for T4 Consulting Group

LEESBURG, Va - January 30, 2002 - T4 Consulting Group, a leading provider of web development and integration services, announced that its revenue for FY2001 topped $2.5 Million, up from $1.3 million in FY2000, an 83% increase. In addition, operating income expanded by 235%.

As a Sun Certified Subcontractor, T4 Consulting Group provides end-to-end systems integration and application development solutions using the leading industry tools and technologies. T4CGís team of senior systems engineers has extensive experience spanning requirements formation, project management, complete systems integration, and custom web development. ...T4 Consulting Group
California Digital California Digital Launches Linux Server Business

LINUXWORLD NEW YORK - January 30, 2002 - California Digital Corporation today announced the launch of its Linux server business. Founded in 1994, California Digital is now shipping ultradense Linux servers and clusters as part of the total Linux solutions it provides to its enterprise clients. California Digital has purchased assets related to VA Software Corporation's former Linux server business. Previously known as VA Linux Systems, Inc., VA exited the hardware business in August 2001 to focus on its SourceForge collaborative software development platform.

California Digital offers the popular 1220, 2230 and 2241 ultradense Linux servers as originally designed by VA Linux, as well as newer versions incorporating the latest technologies.

"California Digital provides comprehensive Linux solutions encompassing hardware, software, and consulting," explains B.J. Arun, California Digital's CEO. "This enables enterprise customers to implement the cost-effective yet robust solutions that Linux-based infrastructure delivers." ...California Digital

Editor's comment:- this product line has had a complicated history, but now it does seem to have a happy ending....
  • April 17, 2000 - VA Linux Systems, Inc, a recognized leader in Linux and Open Source solutions for Internet infrastructure, today announced it has completed the acquisition of TruSolutions of San Diego, Calif., and NetAttach of Santa Clara, Calif. (TruSolutions was a maker of rackmount SPARC and Linux systems).
  • June 27, 2001 - VA Linux Systems, Inc announced it will exit the systems hardware business.
  • January 30, 2002 - California Digital Corporation today announced the launch of its Linux server business. California Digital has purchased assets related to VA Software Corporation's former Linux server business. Previously known as VA Linux Systems, Inc.
HP HP CEO Carly Fiorina Says Linux Ready for Breakout Year

NEW YORK, LinuxWorld - Jan. 30, 2002 - In her keynote address here, Hewlett-Packard Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina declared this the breakout year for Linux, the open source technology that is finding favor with big businesses for its flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Fiorina highlighted a number of innovative Linux solutions already deployed by customers in the entertainment, banking, service provider, Internet infrastructure and technical computing arenas. Adoption in these markets, along with retail, financial services and public sector, is helping fuel growth in Linux, which consultancy Gartner expects to achieve 50% revenue increase in 2002, despite uncertain economic conditions.

"These representatives from the business community aren't supporting Linux because it's popular. They're doing it because it meets their needs and those of their customers, and they're putting their money where their mouths are," she said.

Fiorina praised the open source community for enabling Linux to stay true to the spirit of its revolutionary roots while developing into a solution that can meet the needs of big business. ...HP profile

. Susan Kunz, director of marketing for Sun's Processor Products Group said: "Teaming up with Lineo to support embedded Linux development is an ideal solution for Sun to get a greater share of the embedded systems OEM market. It's been a long-standing policy of Sun to supplement the Solaris Operating Environment with support for specialized, embedded and real-time operating systems. Lineo Embedix Linux is a best of both worlds situation for Sun as it offers the smaller footprint and real-time response of dedicated RTOSes, but also works well with the Solaris Operating Environment. Not only does this make it easy for developers to take on embedded projects but opens up very interesting opportunities for mixed Solaris Operating Environment/embedded Linux system designs."
Sun Supports Lineo Embedix to Run on UltraSPARC IIe

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jan. 29, 2002, — Sun Microsystems, Inc. has signed an agreement with Lineo®, Inc. to adapt and support Lineo's embedded Linux operating system products to run on UltraSPARC® IIe-processor based end user-developed custom hardware. Lineo is working to create a full-featured UltraSPARC IIe processor-focused software development kit complete with the Lineo Embedix® operating system. This kit will be licensed and supported by Lineo. Developers will also have free access to a basic version of embedded Linux operating system fine tuned to run on the UltraSPARC IIe processor.

The Lineo Embedix operating system and tools are carefully designed to ease complete product development and shorten release cycles, giving developers the ability to spend more time on product design. Lineo Embedix is a "100% Pure Linux" and royalty free solution. Embedix provides everything developers have come to expect from Linux combined with an infrastructure to support non-Linux services such as high performance hard real-time, multi-processor (DSPs, 16 bit, 32 bit, and non-heterogeneous architectures) support and native support for Legacy RTOS APIs.

Sun views the addition of embedded Linux as an application development option for end-user developed OEM products as a meeting point between the full featured, Solaris Operating Environment and hard-real-time embedded operating systems. Furthermore, owing to the royalty-free nature of the Linux licensing regime, developers can choose embedded Linux with hard real-time capabilities as a lower-cost alternative to commercial real-time OSes. ...Lineo profile

Editor's comments:- I've been waiting for this development since March 2000 when I started running news items from Lineo on this site. As Sun clarifies its future marketing vision, Sun will gain from having 3rd parties like Lineo deflect some of the heat from the Linux market. Meanwhile feeding TI's fab with additional SPARC capacity will help to keep Sun's own costs low. Finally competing OEM's currently using SPARC will get an insurance policy which protects them from predatory OS marketing games by Sun. This news is a good thing for all SPARC vendors and users.

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