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SPARC News - 2002, November week 1

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Squeak! - the Fastest Solid State Disks
Squeak! - the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
Squeak! - Who's Eating Whom in the Storage Market?
article:- Why Zero RPM Disks will Beat 20K RPM Disks in the High RPM Data Center

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DATAMAN Benelux VAR in Benelux Seeks US Distributor to Supply New Sun Systems

Utrecht, The Netherlands - November 7, 2002 - Dataman Benelux BV is looking for a reliable partner in the US who can provide them with new Sun equipment for some of their projects. Dataman is installing mainly "low-end systems" ranging from V100 to V880. Dataman also has done some installations of enterpise class hardware. The Sparc hardware sales mounts far over 400 units a year. If you are interested or would like to have more information on Dataman please visit their website or email Arno Nabuurs or phone +31 (0)30 2470 660.

Dataman Benelux B.V., based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, is a developer and supplier of complete storage solutions and Ultra Sparc technology. Dataman was founded in 1990 and started supplying Ultra Sparc compatible systems under the brand Solair. Nowadays Dataman has grown to be the largest Sparc compatible system supplier in the Benelux area. Dataman is also an official distributor/reseller of Juniper, Extreme, DIGI, Exabyte, Solair, EMC, WTI, CISCO and many other brands. ...DATAMAN Benelux

See also:- SPARC Resellers in The Netherlands

Editor's comments:- in the US, Sun tries to control the regions in which its resellers can sell systems to a degree which would probably be regarded as illegal in Europe, where free trade in IT (if not in agricultural products like Beef) is more strongly enforced.

DATAMAN is looking for a really good deal to help its own customers and I suggested they ask for a supplier via our web site. Sun will never learn from us who you actually are - unless you choose to announce it via a press release...
VAR in Benelux Seeks US Distributor to Supply New Sun Systems

Sun Repositions Itself as the Leading 64 bit Computing Company

Sun Beefs Up Compute Farm to Speed New SPARC Design

Hot Air - a New Column for Readers' Views

Unisys ES7000 Delivers Best Price/Performance of All Top-Performing Non-Clustered Servers

Data Translation Announces Camera Link PCI Frame Grabber At Vision Show West

Sun's New Prenuptial for Resellers

earlier news - archive
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View from the Hill

One Third of Sun Resellers May Disappear


Editor:- the 4th quarter of 2002 marks the first time in Sun's history that the total number of US resellers selling Sun based solutions has markedly declined. Problems for Sun VARs have been emerging for the past two years, mainly fuelled by own Sun's 65% revenue decline from its peak at the height of the dotcom boom. That problem has been exacerbated by problems in the IT market as a whole. Sun's announcement in October that it will lay off another 11% of its workforce confirms that the outlook for the market does not contain any quick fixes which might lead to a change in fortunes for Sun's VARs.

ACSL, publisher of the SPARC Product Directory has been tracking the active number of Sun resellers for over ten years. In October the number of Sun VAR web sites removed, because the web site was no longer functioning, significantly exceeded the number of new VAR sites added.

Economic analysis would suggest that the Sun market could be profitably served by as little as half the current number of VARs. Many resellers have been hanging on, hoping that things would get better after Sun's announcements at the SunNetwork Conference in September. However the signals coming out from Sun seem to be - too little change, too late - for many of its long term partners. Although many Sun VARs have already diversified into other areas such as storage and Linux, we predict that upto one third of all Sun VARs in the US may exit the Sun market or cease operating as companies altogether during the next 6 months.

Sun has hastened this process by competing directly with its VARs and by delisting companies whose sales have fallen below their agreed levels. However, those VARs which continue to service their customers as "gray Sun resellers" retain their listings in the SPARC Product Directory, and are not numbered among the missing.

I would love to be proved wrong about this prediction, and if there are active Sun VARs out there who aren't currently listed in our US directory, they can send me their profiles to even up the score.

See also:- Sun VARs in the US
AMES Sciences
Established in 1979, Ames Sciences is an independent reseller of refurbished Sun Microsystems computers, workstations, servers and parts.

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"...we dominate 64-bit computing" - Scott McNealy in an article on Mercury News Sun Repositions Itself as the Leading 64 bit Computing Company

Editor:- November 7, 2002 - since the eclipse of the Sun last year, analysts and the stock market have discovered that they can now look at Sun Microsystems without being dazzled by its marketing hype. When you've got a company whose outlook has changed from being an $18 Billion revenue with double digit growth, sliding towards a $10 Billion company with the prospect of double digit shrinkage, and a share price which has fared worse than many of its main competitors people are bound to ask questions. Increasingly they're getting less impressed by the lack of vision coming out from the company.

In an effort to meet some of that criticism, Sun's CEO - Scott McNealy - appears to be testing out a new positioning statement, when he was quoted in several articles in the Mercury News as saying "...we dominate 64-bit computing".

Sun uses positioning statements in its ads (which you won't see here, because Sun has never advertised in the SPARC Product Directory), and in its press releases. Positioning statements are important because they give you a simple mental picture of how the company wants to be perceived by potential customers, partners and stakeholders. Although positioning statements are always intended by their authors to be positive, they can, sometimes be negative. That happens when the reader doesn't believe the statement, which then casts doubt on the brand behind the claim.

So, for example:- for many years Tatung claimed to be "the leading SPARC compatible manufacturer". I argued with them in vain that the claim was ridiculous, because Sun Microsystems is in fact the the leading SPARC compatible manufacturer by a huge margin. It was interesting that Sun never contested Tatung's widely advertised claims in the heyday of the workstation market. Sun didn't need to. That positioning claim from Tatung cast a doubt on everything that the company said, and Tatung has nearly disappeared from view as an active supplier in the market.

To compound Tatung's problems, they also came up with the statement "The Intelligent Choice in SPARC COMPuting Solutions". I'm sure that sounds good if you're selling Tatung. But if you were an existing Sun user, and looking at Tatung as an alternative choice, this statement suggested that Sun was not the intelligent choice, and by inference you were not an intelligent buyer. Well, no-one wants to buy stuff from a company that insults them. So that wasn't such a good idea either.

Getting back to Sun.

The classic example of a tarnished positioning statement was Sun's "We're the dot in dotcom" - which worked fine during the dotcom boom but which backfired when it became associated with the failures of the dot-crash.

Since the crash, Sun has been using wording in its news stories about market share along the lines that "Sun is the #1 Unix server company". However, this year independent data showed that HP had in fact overtaken Sun as the #1 Unix server company in Europe, so that became a dodgy claim which Sun could no longer use with impunity. I wondered if Sun would change that to "#1 Unix RISC server company" - but that's starting to look a little bit contrived. So in the short term - it's likely you're going to see a lot more of the "64 bit computing leader" phrase emerging in Sun ads and press releases.

Now this question may sound silly - but why can't Sun just say it's the leading SPARC compatible server company?
  1. that claim, while true, was hijacked by Tatung and it's too late for Sun to erase that positioning from all our brains.
    .
  2. Sun underinvested in promoting the "SPARC" brand, in an effort to kill off all its workstation rivals in the late 1990's. Choosing instead to invest in promoting the Sun brand, SPARC became orphaned and is little known in the wider computer market.
It's unfortunate that, for technical reasons, many 32 bit computers clock about twice as fast as 64 bit processors. Also the fastest 32 bit servers from HP, IBM, Unisys etc run many applications much faster than Sun's 64 bit servers. That means that being the leader in 64 bit computing will not be perceived with the same rosy glow that McNealy might wish. Changing the reality might work better than just changing the words. ...Sun Microsystems profile, ...Tatung profile

See also:- MarketingViews
Sun Microsystems Sun Beefs Up Compute Farm to Speed New SPARC Design

BURLINGTON, Mass. - November 6, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. accelerates development of new generations of the UltraSPARC processor through today's grand opening of a new processor design compute ranch at the company's Burlington, Mass. campus. The new compute ranch joins a national network of facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif. and Austin, Texas that consist of over 7,500 UltraSPARC processor nodes operating at a sustained 98% utilization rate 24 hours a day.

The new compute facility illustrates Sun's commitment to developing new generations of the UltraSPARC processor. Founded on a long-standing chip-making technology partnership with Texas Instruments, Sun drives an aggressive processor design R&D program at affordable cost to the company. This core-competence-focused business model enables Sun to "punch above its weight" in bringing innovative 64-bit network computing microprocessors to market that outpoint rivals from larger companies. ...Sun Microsystems profile

See also:- Storage Interface Chips
Hot Air - SPARC dir - Readers letter
Hot Air in the
SPARC Product Directory
Terrorbyte didn't think that the View from the Hill was clear enough. He hoped to get a better perspective from his new Hot Air balloon.
Do you have any strong views or insights into what's happening in the Sun/SPARC market?

Share it with our readers in the new Hot Air column - starting soon


Editor:- November 6, 2002 - we're starting a new feature soon in the SPARC Product Directory, which will be called Hot Air. This will provide a channel for readers to publicise their considered thoughts or views about what's happening in the Sun market with the same visibility as we currently give to news stories from vendors, market research companies and my own View from the Hill articles.

It's many years since the demise of the Sun user groups, and as a result there are few channels for this kind of information. Here are the parameters for getting it started. My aim is to pick and feature one or two of the most interesting inputs every week.
  • Length:- 100 to 250 words (no pictures). Anything longer should be submitted as an article, and not a Hot Air nibble.
  • About:- anything you feel strongly about that's happening recently in the Sun market, or any insight which you think other readers might be interested.
  • From:- you must include your name and the type of organization you work for. But we won't publish your email address or any urls.
  • General:- don't use this for stuff which should instead be sent as a press release. For example if you want to promote a new product, Sun event or a user group then send a press release instead. See also:- PR FAQs
I'll select the most interesting inputs to appear on these news pages. So what you say could be seen in a context that's just as visible as the latest news story from Sun. There will also be a Hot Air archive.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please tell your friends and colleagues if you think they may want to contribute.
Unisys Unisys ES7000 Delivers Best Price/Performance of All Top-Performing Non-Clustered Servers

BLUE BELL, Pa. - November 5, 2002 – The Unisys Enterprise Server ES7000 now offers the lowest cost per transaction of any single server in the top-ten performance list of systems tested with TPC-C benchmark, the computer industry's standard measure of server transaction performance.

Scoring 203,518 transactions per minute (tpmC) at $13.18/tpmC, the Unisys ES7000 confirmed its position as the highest-performance 32-bit server available, extending the value of Intel IA-32-based applications -- the most widely used solutions in the industry. The combination of Unisys, Microsoft and Intel technology increasingly challenges UNIX/RISC systems on a raw performance basis, bringing the superior economics of industry-standard technology to the largest, most complex solutions used by global enterprises.

The test configuration is based on a Unisys ES7000 with 32 Intel 1.6GHz Xeon processors MP and 64 GB of memory. The configuration includes Microsoft's forthcoming release of Windows .NET Server 2003, Datacenter Edition and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition database. The complete configuration will be orderable March 31, 2003; the ES7000 is available. ...Unisys profile
Data Translation Data Translation Announces Camera Link PCI Frame Grabber At Vision Show West

MARLBORO, Mass. - November 4, 2002 - Data Translation, Inc. today announced the DT3145 Camera Link PCI Frame Grabber. The DT3145 is a high-performance, high-speed digital image acquisition board, based on the Camera Link standard. Its high-performance image capture capability combined with simple cable interfacing makes it an ideal solution for high-resolution scientific imaging, general-purpose image processing, and machine vision applications. Data Translation will demonstrate the DT3145 frame grabber in booth #517 from November 19-21 at the Vision Show West exhibition and conference in Santa Clara, California.

Camera Link is a high-speed serial data interface, developed by a consortium of camera and frame grabber companies, including Data Translation, that provides a convenient, single cable interconnect standard between digital cameras and image acquisition boards. Because Camera Link is a universal interface, users can interchange different Camera Link digital cameras using the same standard Camera Link cable with the DT3145 frame grabber. ...Data Translation

See also:- Camera Interfaces for Sun
Sun Microsystems
. "Improving profitability, simplifying the business relationship and recognizing partner investment and contribution are the underlying goals of Sun's channel strategy," said Gary Grimes, vice president of U.S. Partner Sales and Management, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "Our partners invest so much of their business in Sun that they have become an extension of Sun's own sales team, with equivalent skills, services, practices and product knowledge. These programs are a direct result from their requests. Bottom line - we're listening."
Sun's New Prenuptial for Resellers

SANTA CLARA, CA - November 4, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. unveiled new programs for its U.S. iForce channel partners in the latest example of the company's commitment to putting partners first. Sun has enhanced its iForce Partner Program model for channel partners and evolved associated partner support programs to provide margin improvement opportunities, help increase profitability, make it easier to do business with Sun, and increase channel partner recognition.

Sun has streamlined its iForce channel partner structure and moved from six designations to two for U.S. partners: Strategic iForce Partner and iForce Partner. Along with this change, Sun simplified the criteria for achieving iForce Partner qualification and continues to promote the iForce logo to help partners leverage the iForce community and communicate its benefits to customers. Strategic iForce Partner and iForce Partner classifications require specific investments in Sun training and certifications, as well as meeting minimum revenue goals. In addition to the category changes, Sun has established eight new incentive programs to reward and recognize any title transfer partners who have invested heavily in Sun's business; have a unique value-add; lead with their own application solution on the Sun platform; or can move the team into new accounts to which Sun has not previously had access. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- if you're new to Sun, you may need a translation here. When Sun talks about "iForce channel partners" - it means "Sun resellers". It's a secret language. If you know any 8 year kids who are Harry Potter fans you'll know what I mean. Part of the switching cost from Sun to other platforms, is that you have to forget about Jinis etc and learn to speak English again.

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