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2002, November weeks 3-4, Sun, SPARC, Solaris news

Squeak! - How Solid is Hard Disk's Future?
Squeak! - the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
Squeak! - Who's Eating Whom in the Storage Market?
article:- Sanitization Methods for Cleaning Up Hard Disk Drives
article:- War of the Disks:- Hard Disk Drives vs. Flash Solid State Disks
article:- Why Zero RPM Disks will Beat 20K RPM Disks in the High RPM Data Center
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Solaris

VERITAS
. "This benchmark makes it clear that the right storage management software yields significant cost savings and is a strategic investment in IT infrastructure," said Brenda Zawatski, vice president of product and solutions marketing, VERITAS Software. "These performance results demonstrate that organizations can save money using VERITAS Foundation Suite to optimize their Solaris environments, without additional investment in costly hardware."
VERITAS Software Helps Sun Solaris Run 15 Times Faster

Editor:- November 28, 2002 - VERITAS Software put out a news story last week in which they claim huge performance benefits for Sun users who also use the VERITAS file system. More details below.

VERITAS Software announced that companies who use VERITAS storage software with Sun Solaris 9 experience 15 times faster computing performance and improved system reliability compared to those who simply run the native software provided with the operating system. Testing performed by the GiantLoop Testing and Certification (GTAC) Lab—an independent testing facility for enterprise storage and networking technologies—demonstrates that VERITAS Foundation Suite™, which combines a high performance file system and the industry's leading storage virtualization solution, makes data-intensive environments run faster on the Solaris 9 platform.

The GiantLoop benchmark also demonstrates that VERITAS Foundation Suite pays for itself in real-time by keeping critical systems online, so revenue-generating transactions are processed without interruption. This enhanced productivity is complemented by improved system reliability, showing that a Solaris system running VERITAS storage management software can restart seven times faster after a system failure.

For more details about the benchmark, including access to GiantLoop's test results white paper please visit www.veritas.com/solaris9. ...VERITAS Software profile
VERITAS Software Helps Sun Solaris Run 15 Times Faster

This Week's Special Offers from Sun Resellers

Sun's New Telecom Blade Servers

Worldwide Workstation Market Contracts in Third Quarter, According to IDC

Asian Automation Associates to Sell Themis Computer Servers and Single-Board Computers

ZDNET Reports that Sun Has Gagged a UK Web site

Resilience Expands Family of "Secured by Check Point" VPN/Firewall Appliances

Sun's New Interconnect Clusters Three Times Faster than Gigabit Ethernet

Lindows.com Releases Affordable Linux

Sun Acquires Terraspring

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View from the Hill

Everyone's bashing Sun. So will SPARC survive?


Editor:- November 22, 2002 - It's become fashionable to knock Sun in the financial press, and even Business Week this week dedicated a long article to Sun bashing called "Will Sun Rise Again?" which includes another scary quote from Scott McNealy in which he says "...A computer is not a commodity."

If you still had any doubts about the thinking that's now driving Sun, that might make you more worried. But let's do a reality check here.. It was only a sound bite to a journalist. If you look back at Sun's history, their past success owes much to commoditizing products.

For example in the mid 1980's in the workstation market they used the low cost Unix operating system to beat out Apollo's proprietary OS. In the early 1990's Sun changed the multiprocessor server market from one in which only the government and oil companies could afford to buy supercomputers, into one where anyone could get a 4 processor SPARCstation delivered to their desktop from a mail order catalog. And then in the late 1990's Sun served the fledgeling dotcom industry by delivering mainframes which were preconfigured out of the box to run their ebusiness, even if those startup founders, which were drowning in VC dotcash, didn't know exactly what sort of business they were really in. So Sun has turned computers into commodities many times before and will do so many times again. You have to separate the sentiments behind McNealy's quote, from the reality. Sun would really like to charge more for their systems, but strong competition makes that unrealistic. So Sun has got to learn new tricks, or sell stuff cheaper like everyone else.

Another suggestion in the BW article was that Sun should maybe get rid of SPARC. That's another scary idea for most readers of the SPARC Product Directory but it's not new. I've been wondering about when Sun would do that ever ever since they launched their first SPARC systems in 1987. But burning your bridges without planning an escape route would be suicide for the company. And as we're all too well aware, Sun has for many years done too little to engineer a realistic escape route into Intel architecture servers. I discussed this issue in these pages in 1999 when there was less competition in the Linux market. But although Sun does have a small bridgehead into the Intel market, it's pathetically small and frankly if their Linux business was a separate company you wouldn't want to invest in it, even buying Sun shares would look like a better prospect.

So.. How worried should you be that your investmet in SPARC and Solaris might suddenly not look like such a good idea after all?

If you look at the worst case, then you'll probably agree that the prospects aren't so bad. Here are some ideas to dwell upon.

  • Sun will survive McNealy's Departure. Lots of other companies have survived the unthinkable break with their founders as they got older, and markets changed. Hey, you never know! If Scott left Sun now (which would increase the share price by the way) then like Steve Jobs at Apple, and Arnold Schwarzenegger he might come back.
  • SPARC will survive Sun. If Sun is acquired by IBM or HP, then the market for SPARC srevers will continue for at least another five years. When Compaq acquired DEC, they still carried on selling Alpha servers for a while, and the Alpha products were duds with a miniscule installed base. The installed base for SPARC is huge. Sun's revenue may be declining, but the number of SPARC servers has been increasing - even during the worst years of the recession. Sun doesn't even make its SPARC chips. And there's a huge invisible embedded SPARC market in telecoms and appliances in which Sun isn't even the main player.
  • Apple has survived for 20 years in a PC market which they created and then gave away to Intel and Microsoft. Even if Sun shrinks to a $10 Billion company next year, it will still be twice the size of Apple, and unlike Apple, Sun still has partner OEMs which also sell SPARC into other markets which Sun does not address so well directly. So SPARC can survive and thrive as a 64 bit niche market, even if the rest of the market wants to stay in the 32 bit world.

That's all looking at worst case scenarios. The reality will not be so bad. Sun could get better at managing its business. The IT market could pick up. Someone might find a fatal bug in the next generation of Intel processors - worse than Intel's floating point gaff, and worse than Sun's cache problem. That would create a torrent of users switching to SPARC servers. A software company could create a new killer app for high security 64 bit computing which would make SPARC a necessity rather than a luxury. Sun could introduce a 32 bit SPARC appliance that sizzles at 3GHz.

There's going to be a future for SPARC for a long long time whatever they say in the financial press. Trust your instincts on this one. It's not going to go away. ...Sun Microsystems profile

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This Week's Special Offers from Sun Resellers

Editor:- November 27, 2002 - Thanksgiving week is usually a slow news week for enterprise product announcements. So while we wait for some real news, I thought I'd let you know about some of the special offers this week available from our advertisers.
  • UK - Amtec, based in Dorset, (where it's been raining quite hard this morning) has a monthly list which was updated today and includes the following - "Sun Enterprise E420R Server with 2 x 450MHZ, 1GB RAM, 2 x 18GB Drives, On board 10/100 Ethernet Connection, CD ROM, Solaris 8 Server Licence, 12 Months RTB warranty, eligible for Sun Maintenance.- £5,540 "

    .
  • USA - Radiant Resources, based in Manasquan, NJ has a number of storage offers on their home page including:- "A1000 Storage Array (432GB) Starts at $8300.00", "StorEdge T3BES Array (9x73GB) Starts at $14400.00 Lease it for only $432.00/mth!"
Sun Microsystems Sun's New Telecom Blade Servers

Santa Clara, Calif. and Hong Kong - ITU Telecom Asia 2002 Conference - November 25, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today introduced new models of NEBS-certified cPCI servers aimed at the telecom market. Designed for reliability and flexibility, Netra CT 410 and 810 cPCI telecom blade servers are Sun's full upgrade of the Netra CT server product line offering OEMs ruggedized systems that scale to 16 processor blades per shelf and 48 processor blades per rack. These systems offer the telecom industry the most comprehensive system management services, including comprehensive processor and element management, remote alarm function, lights out management, and hot swap control of all system components. The system management software components provide connectivity to high availability software packages running the Solaris Operating Environment, including the Netra HA Suite software and the new version, FS 2.1.

Netra CT 410 and 810 servers take compute and I/O density to the next level, with full satellite support in all I/O slots, allowing each blade to behave as a networked enterprise server sharing support resources including storage, I/O cards, PSUs, and fans. With the Netra system management and HA software, the system can create up to 7 node clusters in a single cPCI bus segment. Upgraded system management features FRU ID for active components and additional midplane features, including PICMG 2.9 IPMI system management and HA Hot Swap.

The DC version of the Netra CT 410 and 810 servers is currently available at a list price (US) starting at $19,195 for the Netra CT 410, and a list price (US) for the Netra CT 810 server starts at $22,995. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- this is a catching up exercise for Sun which had started to lag so far behind the technology curve for cPCI SPARC systems that many integrators had already ditched their Sun cPCI platforms in favor of denser and more capable solutions from other SPARC companies which were in this product segment from the beginning. It's important for Sun to establish itself in this market which is potentially worth more than its declining workstation business.
IDC
. "A combination of aggressive pricing by vendors and user migration to less richly configured systems has put increased pressure on this market," said Kate Sullivan, research analyst in the workstations research group at IDC. "A few years ago, Windows/IA workstations were a competitive threat to traditional Unix/RISC-based systems; but today, even personal workstations are under attack from lower cost PC solutions."

"Facing pressures from a number of fronts, the traditional workstation market seems to have entered a state of perpetual decline," said Kara Yokley, research manager at IDC. "It appears highly unlikely that the market will ever rebound to previous levels, particularly as users transition to commodity-based solutions and embrace alternative computing models."
Worldwide Workstation Market Contracts in Third Quarter, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - November 21, 2002 – The worldwide workstation market declined in both unit and revenue terms during the third quarter of 2002, according to new data published by IDC. The Windows-based workstation market was nearly flat from the second quarter, while the Unix-based market was down 25% in units. Average sales prices, which had begun to stabilize in the previous quarter, were down slightly. However, the overall market suffered from continued economic malaise and end-user transition to lower-cost solutions. Dell remained the market leader in both unit and revenue terms across both IA and RISC-based workstations.

In Q3, the traditional workstation market was down 25% sequentially and down 31% in year-over-year terms. This quarter, Sun captured 59% unit share of the worldwide traditional workstation market and maintained its number 1 position. HP, IBM, and SGI rounded out the top vendors in this space. Combined, the top four accounted for 97% of the worldwide Unix/RISC workstation market. ...IDC profile

See also:- Desktop SPARC systems
Asian Automation Associates

Themis Computer
. The changes in the telecommunications industry in Asia/Pacific, and the extremes of market diversity, offer tremendous opportunities. These market changes are fuelled by economic, regulatory and emerging communications technologies. In response to these market changes, Asian Automation integrates next generation solutions into systems that are used in the growing areas of Internet services, cellular communications, and data/telephony network infrastructure.

"Themis Computer, with its innovative new dual-processor systems and Compact PCI boards is a perfect partner for us", stated Clement Lee, founder and president of Asian Automation Associates. "Their expertise in providing reliable, high-performance solutions makes it easier for us to integrate reliable, turnkey systems for harsh customers environments. Themis' new UltraSPARC III and Intel XeonÔ-based servers will provide our customers outstanding performance, reliability and flexibility for growth."
Asian Automation Associates to Sell Themis Computer Servers and Single-Board Computers

FREMONT, California - November 20, 2002 - Themis Computer announced that it has selected Asian Automation Associates to sell its extended operating environment server and single-boards computers into military, aerospace, and communications markets in Asia.

Established in 1977, Asian Automation is headquartered in Hong Kong, China and has branch offices in Beijing, and Shanghai. Asian Automation also has a strong presence in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. Asian Automation has a proven reputation for providing advanced solutions for signal processing, networking, ATM, TETRA, 2.5G, 3G, 4G, and factory automation. Asian Automation's corporate vision is to become a leading supplier of complete turnkey solutions used in telecommunications, industrial control, factory automation, electronics and semiconductor markets.

Themis' new single and dual-processor servers utilized innovative technologies, including the fastest new processor technologies from Sun® Microsystems and Intel®, and InfiniBand® remote PCI bridge technology, to build high performance, mission critical systems. Surviving up to 20G shock and vibration, Themis server/workstation systems offer outstanding platform performance, dependability, and value for use in harsh environments. The new Themis Computer VMEBus and CompactPCI families of UltraSPARC®-based board products provides the widest range of rugged, general purpose, embedded systems and single-board computers available today and are 100% compatible with Solaris™. ...Themis Computer
Sun Microsystems

The Inquirer

ZDNET
ZDNET Reports that Sun Has Gagged a UK Web site

Editor:- November 20, 2002 - an article published today by ZDNET says that "Sun Microsystems has threatened a UK hardware news site (called The Inquirer) with legal action for a story that included information that had already been posted on Sun's own Web site."

The Inquirer has posted its own version of Sun's legal approaches - click here for info.

I don't know the details and can't comment on this particular interesting story. But sometimes Sun and their legal agents can be a force for good in the web publishing world. For example there have been several occasions in the past when rogue sites have been set up stealing copyright material without permission from our own site - the SPARC Product Directory. Luckily in those situations, the offending companies were also cyber squatting and abusing Sun's own registered trademarks and content. So referring the matter to the right place meant that the offending sites were closed down much more quickly and at lower cost than if I had to pursue them myself.

In case you were wondering... I've never been asked to remove content or change an article by Sun, which, considering how critical some of our articles have been in the past, suggests that they're not as "anti" web publisher as the tone of the ZDNET article might suggest. Sun's own web site even links here... if you look in the right places. ...Sun Microsystems profile, ...The Inquirer, ... ZDNET
Resilience Resilience Expands Family of "Secured by Check Point" VPN/Firewall Appliances

Mountain View, CA - November 19, 2002 - Resilience Corporation today announced it has expanded upon its popular "Secured by Check Point" DX4000 appliance by introducing a complete line of VPN/Firewall appliances to address the different performance and high availability requirements of the enterprise - from remote offices to corporate data centers. The DX4000 appliances come pre-installed with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. market-leading VPN-1®/FireWall-1® Next Generation software and deliver leading price/performance in each product class. In addition, Resilience offers customers unparalleled investment protection by providing an end-to-end upgrade path to meet the changing needs of their networks.

Each series in the DX4000 family offers a choice of 4 different performance levels, so network managers can choose the throughput they need for the task at hand. Entry level models of the DX4000 family start at robust throughput levels of 600 Mbps firewall and 200 Mbps VPN throughput. With an option for dual processors and speeds of 1.5 Gbps firewall and 600 Mbps VPN throughput, the DX4000 family over-delivers on the capacity requirements of most networks. ...Resilience profile

See also:- Security
Sun Microsystems Sun's New Interconnect Clusters Three Times Faster than Gigabit Ethernet

BALTIMORE - SUPERCOMPUTING 2002 - November 18, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. introduced today its Sun Fire Link interconnect, a breakthrough technology that boosts high-end functionality in the data center and supports industry-leading 4.8 gigabytes per second peak throughput and peak performance of more than a TeraFlop - one trillion floating-point operations per second - in a cluster of systems. The state-of-the-art optical interconnect technology dramatically accelerates cluster communication among up to eight high-end Sun systems - from the Sun Fire 6800 to the Sun Fire 15K server - powering up to 800 processors.

The high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnect enables customers to build superclusters that can function as a collective - virtualized - system capable of linear scaling as nodes are added. Sun researchers have achieved industry high marks for cluster performance with sustained 2.8 gigabytes per second bandwidth and MPI latency rates under four microseconds. With Sun Fire Link interconnect, Sun has increased speeds at which data is shared, while delivering bandwidth an order of magnitude greater than standard, commodity interconnects.

Sun plans to sell new supercomputing clusters based on Sun Fire Link technology as a new offering called Galaxy-class configurations which will range from 144 to 800 processors. Sun tested a cluster of Sun Fire 6800 servers, powered by 128 UltraSPARC® III processors and Sun Fire Link technology, with performance results that were three times faster than the same configuration connected with Gigabit Ethernet technology. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- the performance of Sun's new Sun Fire Link technology sounds good until you realise that InfiniBand products offering the same performance will soon be appearing as commodity internnects in low cost Linux systems from anyone who can plug in a PCI-X card. So the faster performance and higher number of processors will soon be the new standard in all HPC systems.
Lindows.com
. "Until now, the value of Linux has been unavailable to 99% of the world to experience first hand," said Michael Robertson, chief executive officer of Lindows.com, Inc. "Lindows.com, Inc. along with our top-tier retail partners are now making this affordable technology, LindowsOS, available to everyone so they can start saving money on their desktop computing needs. Our unique Click-N-Run technology makes the power and value of Linux software practical for any business, home or school."
Lindows.com Releases Affordable Linux

SAN DIEGO - November 18, 2002 - Lindows.com, Inc. today released LindowsOS, the most affordable Linux desktop system for the mass market. LindowsOS is unique because it's easily installed and offers a complete solution for business, home and school available for $129 - including a complete software library. LindowsOS runs hundreds of applications while maintaining compatibility with legacy Microsoft® Windows file formats.

LindowsOS 3.0 is immediately available directly from Lindows.com or by visiting one of our mainstream retail partners. Wal-Mart customers will find a complete line of LindowsOS computers, starting at $199. Mail order customers can find LindowsOS computers at Tigerdirect in their latest print catalogs

LindowsOS' unique abilities ushers in a new era of computing where computers are equipped with an entire library of constantly improving, digitally distributed software for one flat fee. Now, for an affordable $129, the mass market can obtain a "fully-loaded" system complete with hundreds of applications. LindowsOS brings an end to the pay, pay and pay again per machine licensing policies. LindowsOS friendly licensing plan allows users to install all of their applications on all of their capable PCs. ...Lindows.com

Editor's comments:- Sun was talking about marketing a desktop Linux PC platform a few months ago. But Sun has never understood the needs of desktop PC users. The LindowsOS could be the new standard which breaks the Microsoft/Apple desktop duopoly.
Terraspring
. Editor:- I'd never heard about this company before, so here's some info from their web site before it disappears...

"Terraspring software changes the economics of computing by creating a centralized pool of IT resources (servers, storage, firewalls, load balancers) that can be repurposed within minutes using a Web browser interface.

Our solution dramatically reduces costs and makes data center operations more efficient by automating labor-intensive and error-prone tasks. From design to deployment to deactivation, Terraspring automates every step of the infrastructure lifecycle."
Sun Acquires Terraspring

SANTA CLARA, CA - November 15, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced that it has acquired Terraspring, a privately-held developer of infrastructure automation software based in Fremont, CA. The addition of Terraspring's solution to Sun's product portfolio represents a significant step in the execution of N1, Sun's strategy for data center optimization. In this first phase of N1, separate network, compute and storage elements are transformed into a single supply of resources thus enabling companies to manage their IT resources much more efficiently, and based on business needs.

Sun acquired Terraspring in a cash for stock transaction. Founded in June 1999, Terraspring's technology automates the deployment, management, visibility and control of heterogeneous datacenter environments including Solaris, Linux and Windows/NT Operating Environments. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- Sun has recently been criticised by analysts for spending too much cash on stock buybacks. But it looks like they still have a little bit left over for this type of acquisition. I learned yesterday that Intel has spent a whopping $29 Billion propping up its own share price in the last decade. That puts things into context I guess.

And speaking of the "Thingy Inside" company... Yesterday Sun was remarkably quiet about the fact that PC makers had started shipping 3GHz Intel Pentium based PCs. In the past more PCs translated directly into demand for more Sun servers. That relationship curve may have gone soft now.

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