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SPARC history - 2002, February week 1

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Sun Microsystems Sun Does the Linux Thing

SANTA CLARA, CA - February 7, 2002 - In a sweeping move, Sun Microsystems, Inc. expanded its support via a three-prong approach in support of the Linux operating system.

First, Sun announced it will ship a full implementation of the Linux operating system.

Second, Sun will dramatically expand its line of Sun Cobalt Linux appliances and will also introduce a new family of low-end general purpose Linux/x86-based systems.

And third, it will more aggressively participate in the Linux community by freely offering key components of its Solaris operating environment software.

Sun will expand the use of Linux beyond its existing Sun Cobalt appliances. It will extend its 'edge' server family in order to address the growing demand for low-priced, horizontally scalable servers. Sun is already the world's leading supplier of Linux-based appliance systems. Its Sun Cobalt line of server appliances starts at less than $1,000 and has an installed base of more than 100,000 units. The company will continue to enhance the Sun Cobalt line of Linux appliances beyond its current eight-inch square "Qube" and 1.75-inch high rack-mountable configurations.

See also:- Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars

Editor's comment:- I suggested a long time ago in these pages that Sun needed to expand into the Intel architecture server market to expand its customer base. At the time, I thought that Sun could this do with using Solaris X86. Looks like Sun has decided to be bolder, and is going to do the full monty.

SUNW should get a steep rise from this announcement when analysts understand the implications. Sun needs a Dell beater in the low end market. This could be how to do it, by targeting users who don't want to use Windows, but do want to stick with Intel hardware.
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View From the Hill:- Differentiating Storage Appliances with Software and Services

H
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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Minicomputer Exchange MCE Appoints New Business Development Director

Sunnyvale, California - February 7, 2002 - Expanding our thirty-year history of support, MCE is pleased to announce the appointment of Terry Drasny to the position of Director, New Business Development. Terry's main objective will be to create partnerships throughout the United States and the expansion of MCE's extended customer care plans; including aftermarket parts care programs and the new on-site field engineering function. Initially, MCE under Terry's direction will focus on its web page presentation, content management, and inventory as well as improving the frequency of customer communications. ...MCE profile
PDSI Alcatel and PDSI Announce Multi-Year Contract for Intelligent Network Servers

COLUMBUS, Ohio - February 6, 2002 - Pinnacle Data Systems, Inc. (PDSi) announced that the company has entered into a four-year agreement with Alcatel to provide PDSi's TS1000 multi-processor telecommunications server as a strategic part of Alcatel's Intelligent Network product line. Under the terms of the agreement, PDSi has designed and manufactured a powerful, carrier-grade telecom server for Alcatel, which will initially deploy the servers as core elements in a number of global wireless and wireline networks.

PDSi's TS1000 features a SPARC-based, four-processor pluggable computer core, CompactPCI backplane, hot swappable power supplies and storage devices, and advanced system. The solution is ideally suited for mission-critical telecom applications; combining greatly increased call processing speed, high computer density, with the ease of minimal downtime.

In addition to design and manufacture of the system, PDSi will provide comprehensive product lifecycle support including field support and logistics, depot repair and end-of-life control. Under the terms of the agreement, PDSi will also have the opportunity to provide support, logistics and repair for other products in Alcatel's current installed base of Intelligent Network solutions.

"Together we were able to design a solution that met and exceeded Alcatel's speed requirements while supporting multiple scalable configurations - ultimately improving the efficiency of carrier networks and helping their customers to provide flexible, value-added services to consumers," commented John D. Bair, president and CEO of PDSi.

"PDSi has been very responsive in developing a system that meets the demanding requirements of our product line. The performance, high density, scalability and CompactPCI connectivity of the TS1000 make it a very attractive for intelligent network applications," said Mark Peterson, Vice President of Alcatel's Network Applications Division. ...Alcatel , ...PDSi profile
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Sun Microsystems
. Highlights of the OneWorld on Sun benchmark include:
  • 8,969 concurrent users
  • 179,520 sales order line items per hour
  • 179,419 purchase order line items per hour
  • 79.7% CPU utilization
  • 1.46 second user response time
Sun Sets New HTML Performance Record

DENVER, CO and SANTA CLARA, Calif. - February 06, 2002 - J.D. Edwards & Company and Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced the highest concurrent user record for OneWorld. Xe running on Sun Fire servers and Sun StorEdge arrays. The benchmark supported 8,969 concurrent HTML clients - demonstrating new levels of performance and scalability for OneWorld. These results achieved nearly 1.5 times the number of users enabled on competitive systems.

The benchmark reaffirms that OneWorld collaborative commerce software can scale into high-volume enterprise environments. A variety of user environments were simulated with up to 9,000 users running 16 different business applications and a workload of 50% distribution, 25% manufacturing and 25% financials. The average response time across all applications and users was 1.46 seconds, 27% faster than the industry standard of 2.0 seconds.

The performance gains can be attributed to optimization of the HTML and Web solution components of OneWorld Xe SP17 and higher. In addition, the Sun Fire architecture riding on the foundation of the UltraSPARC III Sun Fire 6800 server running the Solaris Operating Environment, included 24 UltraSPARC III 750 MHz processors and 48 GB of memory.
Rave Rave Computer Expands its Portfolio of Storage and Backup Solutions with Qualstar Products

Sterling Heights, Michigan - February 6, 2002 - Rave Computer, a leading custom systems solution integrator, announces that it has signed an agreement with Qualstar to resell their entire line of tape libraries in North America.

"As part of our corporate strategy, Rave Computer was looking to expand their portfolio of data storage and backup solutions, said Tony Scicluna, Director of Sales, "We chose Qualstar because of their reputation of delivering robust, reliable and quality tape libraries that support industry-preferred tape formats. Rave Computer has customers nationwide who are demanding reliability, performance and return on their assets. Choosing Qualstar is proof to our customers of our commitment to deliver on their needs." ...Qualstar profile, ...Rave profile
Peritek
. "The PMA-P is a proven solution for easing and speeding the integration of vital PMC mezzanine cards, such as Peritek's RG-101 and VCQ-M graphic cards, into PCI-based systems," stated Victor Gold, President of Peritek. "This passive carrier lets the integrator simply plug-in any standard PMC card without any additional software development burden."
Peritek Announces 64-bit PMC-to-PCI Carrier Board

OAKLAND, Calif. - February 5, 2002 - Peritek Corporation has introduced a new PMC-to-PCI adapter board. The PMA-P is a single slot PCI card that hosts any 32 or 64-bit PMC module and eases the integration of PMC boards into embedded systems. Because the PMA-P is a passive PMC-to-PCI adapter module, no additional software development is required to integrate PMC mezzanine cards into a PCI system. There is no PCI-to-PCI bridge to program. Instead the adapter makes a direct PCI bus connection between the PMC and PCI connectors.
Although the PMA-P is a passive addition to the PCI bus, optional 3.3 volt generation is provided for use in PCI machines that don't supply power. news image Peritek
The PMA-P supports PCI Rev. 2.1, PCI 64. It contains a full 64-bit interconnect between its PCI edge connector and the four PMC expansion connectors. An optional VME P2-type connector enables access to User I/O signals on the PMC J4 connector. Jumpers enable the user to select 66 MHz operation, PCI PRSNT and PMC BUSMODE. The card also includes test points and power supply LEDs.

The adapter board is available in two configurations. The first, PMA-P, features full PMC J1-J4 connectors, a JTAG connector and indicator LEDs. The second version, the PMA-P/P2, is identical except for the addition of the optional VMEbus P2-style connector.

Pricing is the same for each board "flavor" and starts at $295.00 in 100 piece quantities. Availability is off-the-shelf. ...Peritek profile
Gartner Dataquest Gartner Dataquest Chops Industry's Rapid Growth Expectations for Blade Servers

SAN JOSE, Calif. - February 5, 2002 - The growth of the Internet has caused an explosion in the demand for front-end servers resulting in greater space and power needs. Blade servers could meet that need, according to Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc. Gartner Dataquest forecasts worldwide blade server shipmentsto grow from 84,810 units in 2002 to more than 1 million by 2006. A blade server is a server contained on a card. Rather than installing servers one chassis at a time into a rack cabinet as is most common today, with blade servers, network administrators can install a server card (or blade) into a chassis that has multiple slots to hold these server cards.

"A lack of standards will be a primary market inhibitor as many end users will be reluctant to install a blade server that appears to be proprietary. This restriction on blade server demand will encourage the development of a standard designed specifically for blade servers to which the worldwide server vendors adhere," said Jeffrey Hewitt, principal analyst covering servers for Gartner Dataquest's Computing Platform Worldwide group. "The acceptance of such a standard should help reduce end-user inhibition to install blade servers."

Gartner Dataquest analysts recommend that server vendors help drive the development of a blade server standard. Until such a standard is developed and met, vendors should have a blade server product line to keep from being "locked out" of sales that require blade solutions. Partnering with smaller blade vendors or leveraging existing development would be the most efficient way to enter this market without overspending.

"For vendors to gain any competitive advantage and enjoy market share from this cycle disruption, the blade product offering must include demonstrable advantages for customers over rack-optimized servers," said Hewitt. "These include significant space advantages, proven ease of installation and removal and management software that facilitates the installation of blades into an enterprise environment."

Potential customers of blade server technology will need to weigh their priorities carefully to decide whether to use blade servers. If server density is an overriding concern, then customers may feel an urgency to adopt blade technology as soon as possible. This must be balanced with the lack of compatibility that will exist between blades from different vendors. Gartner Dataquest analysts suggest that most customers hold out for more mature products that adhere to standards truly developed for blade servers. ...Gartner profile
Stratus Technologies
. "From day one, Stratus' purpose has been to provide unsurpassed reliability for the world's most demanding computing environments," said Steve Kiely, president and CEO. "That's still the case today. Our company's mission is clear and unwavering. "Some Stratus customers have gone years - five, ten, 12, and as many as 17 years, without experiencing any unplanned computer downtime."
Stratus Marks Twenty Years of Fault-Tolerant Server Shipments

MAYNARD, MA, Feb. 4, 2002 - Stratus Technologies, Inc., maker of the world's most reliable servers, announced today the twentieth anniversary of shipping its very first Stratus fault-tolerant computer. Loaded by hand onto the back of a pick-up truck at the company's former headquarters in Natick, Mass., the Stratus/32 Unit #1 was dispatched on February 8, 1982 to the West Lynn Creamery in neighboring Lynn, Mass., to ensure reliable order fulfillment and delivery of the company's perishable goods.

Stratus lore is replete with stories that speak to the reliability of its servers. For example, after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter Scale, and the 1993 Los Angeles Northridge earthquake measuring 6.9, Stratus Support Coordination electronically accessed all customers' machines in the area. All were running and none required service. One customer's system had danced across the floor, held fast only by its strained power cord, and kept on processing. Finally a support coordinator connected with a customer employee by phone. The employee reported, "The Stratus server is fine. Can't talk. Everything else is down," and hung up the phone.

Like its systems, Stratus "keeps on ticking". The 22-year-old firm is now based in Maynard, Mass., in the former headquarters of the now-defunct Digital Equipment Corporation. Stratus may well be the last prospering member of a large fraternity of "Massachusetts Miracle" computer manufacturers that once populated the two beltways encircling Boston. ...Stratus Technologies, HA SSDs
Tadpole
. "UltraBookIIe raises the bar in affordable mobile 64-bit Solaris computing," says Bob Butchko, Tadpole's vice president of sales and marketing. "It gives sky-high portability to Sun's Solaris 8 platform, and allows customers to drive down further the cost of anytime-anywhere, mission-critical computing while maintaining absolute Sun Sparc/Solaris binary compatibility."
Tadpole Marks A Decade of Leadership In UNIX® Portability With New UltraBookIIe Laptop

Carlsbad (CA) and Cambridge (UK) - February 4, 2002 - Marking a decade of innovative portable UNIX designs, quality manufacturing and service to its global customer base, Tadpole today announced that it has lowered the entry cost of compute intensive platforms for mission-critical computing with a new laptop for the Sun Solaris computing world.

Designated UltraBookIIe, and built around the high performance/low power 500MHz UltraSPARC IIe chip, the characteristics of this new laptop bear all the hallmarks and de facto Solaris computing features expected of California-based Tadpole, one of Sun's elite Master Value Added Integrators. The launch of UltraBookIIe also further underlines Tadpole's standing as a builder of best-of-breed, space-conscious UNIX solutions, and its understanding of the general user interface needed by federal and Global 2000 customers to be fully operational in the Sun computing space.

UltraBookIIe packs all the power and performance of a Sun workstation into a compact laptop frame. Weighing just 8lbs, its features include removable disk drives to 60GB total capacity, DRAM to 2GB, a true-color 14.1" active matrix TFT display, integrated DVD/CD-ROM, 97-key Sun compatible keyboard with all 12 function keys and 3-button mouse trackpad, and 4 USB ports. UltraBookIIe is shipped pre-installed with the 64-bit Solaris 8 operating system.

UltraBookIIe laptops are 100% binary compatible with Sun desktops and servers and can run the full 13,000 plus inventory of Solaris applications.

Pricing: from under $10,000, exclusive sales tax. Availability: immediate. ...Tadpole-Cycle profile

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