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SPARC History - 2003, January weeks 3 - 4

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Paralan Corporation Paralan Launches Ultra320 SCSI HBAs for Solaris

San Diego, CA - January 31, 2003 - A new Ultra320 SCSI Host Bus Adapter, which interfaces the vast majority of new and legacy SCSI devices to a host's PCI bus, is being introduced today by Paralan Corporation.

The Model P79320 Host Bus Adapter, or HBA, supports SCSI peripherals with seamless backward compatibility, from SCSI-1, Fast, Ultra, Wide Ultra, Ultra2 through Ultra320 - both single-ended and multimode LVD/MSE. The Ultra320 HBA is especially suited for workstations, servers, and high-end power users. Up to 16 SCSI IDs are supported.

On the host side, the P79320 interfaces with 32 or 64-bit (up to 133 MHz) DMA bus master PCI and PCI-X. With all Ultra320 peripherals, the HBA can maintain a full, sustained parallel data transmission rate of 320 Mbytes/sec. To facilitate installation, there are no jumpers or switches to set for a standard installation. On-board Status LEDs provide system information to the installer, including Bus Activity, Terminator Status and Board Status.

The P79320 HBA is ported to a number of operating systems, including Windows NT®, Windows 2000 and XP Pro, Sun Solaris, Linux, UnixWare and others. Complete software tools and utilities are provided. The P79320 single piece price starts at $299. For OEM applications, Paralan can build to suit, with modifications or design alterations to match the customer's specific needs. ...Paralan profile
Paralan Launches Ultra320 SCSI HBAs for Solaris

How Sun can pull out of its slump? - article on LinuxWorld.com

New "Valley of the Geeks" Book Blasts Silicon Valley

NT Web Virus Provides Strong Sales Pitch for Sun Servers

Houston Closes the Office Door on XP

Ximian Evolution and Mono Project Awarded Top Honors At LinuxWorld Conference & Expo

Gartner Dataquest Says 14 Vertical Markets to Increase IT Spending in 2003

UltraSPARC 64 bit Solaris Notebooks Break the $3,000 Barrier

Industry Effort Launched to Establish InfiniBand® Architecture as Standard Interconnect In Embedded Computing

Antares Scheduled to Release Enterprise 450 Series Upgrade Kit

The first available USB Flash disk with Solaris support

Sun Microsystems Reports Second Fiscal Quarter Results

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Celebrating the Work of the Independent Sun VARs

I
'm often asked by resellers whether they can are eligible to be added to the worldwide SPARC reseller directories on the SPARC Product Directory even if they aren't official Sun resellers (or iForce partners, SunBeams or whatever Sun is going to call them next.)

Of course my answer is always "yes of course". If a company is actively marketing SPARC systems, that increases customer choice. And whatever else may be on the agenda the primary role of a directory publisher, like this one, has to be - to support a competitive market.

If all of you were happy to buy only those products made (or resold) by Sun Microsystems, and only from the companies that Sun has decided you can buy from, based on where you happen to be, or some other demographic which Sun decides is important, you'd have a very restricted choice.

There was a time your Sun rep would be saying "Sorry? You want a Sun server in a compactPCI card? That sounds interesting. Come back in a few years time and we'll see if there's enough demand." Instead you bought it first from Force Computers, and then waited a year or so to get a similar product from Sun. The same goes for SPARC portables, parallel processing and other desirable functions, all of which were introduced first by 3rd parties. Independent Sun VARs were the first companies to innovate Sun workstations in the early 1990s by supplying double speed processors, faster processors and board level upgrades. Without that competitive pressure the market would have plodded along at a much slower pace, because not everyone can afford to scrap older systems and start again.

The other thing which the Sun rep, in a "controlled" market would like to do, is determine the price you're going to pay for that Sun server.

One of the most important roles of the Independent Sun VARs has been to increase price competition within the Sun user base. As a buyer you benefit from that influence even if your order goes to an official Sun VAR. The official Sun VARs are looking over their shoulder all the time to see what's happening in the "gray" market. They can't afford to ignore it. The "gray" market also suits Sun and its distributors when they want to dump excess inventory. Where do you think that the product comes from in the first place? It comes out of Sun's factories.

And what about technical support? You can get the same warranty, upgrades and service options that you can from the SunBlest partner, but often with a faster delivery or a lower price.

Aren't these "gray" Sun VARs fly-by-night outfits? How can you be sure they're solid?

How can you be sure that Sun Microsystems itself is solid? Recently it's been looking a bit tired and flaky. Things are getting better there now. But it's hard to tell how solid any company is from the outside. Remember ENRON? That was a safe bet - it would seem - if you were a qualified accountant.

The reality is that many of these "gray" companies have been selling Sun a lot longer than the newest iForce partners which you hear about from time to time in Sun's press releases. ...And then never hear from again because often they're not really resellers at all, they're just organisations which use a lot of Sun servers and want to get a better price. (But that's another story.) Many of these "gray" Sun VARs have been selling Sun for 10 years or more. Some of these companies are as old or even older than Sun itself.

Let's face it. Any company which actively markets Sun in these days of Sun's faded glory is not doing it as a "get rich quick" scheme. They're doing it because they love the product, work hard to satisfy their customers, and provide a service which is different from and sometimes better than you will get from Sun's own appointed. And the independents have the scars to prove it.

Finally, the biggest source of Sun products will always be the official Sun resellers. But without the Independent Sun VARs - it wouldn't be a real market. So check out their stalls from time to time. You might spot a bargain.

EDT
Engineering Design Team (EDT) specializes in high-speed interface products that link devices such as digital cameras, medical, and telemetry systems, to almost any computer.

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Sun How Sun can pull out of its slump? - article on LinuxWorld.com

Editor:- January 29, 2003 - a new article called How Sun can pull out of its slump? - by Paul Murphy appears this week on LinuxWorld.com. Among other things, the author Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 20-year veteran of the IT consulting industry.

Paul's article starts from a more technically rooted view than most of the analysis you'll see in the SPARC Product Directory. At the SPD we tend to be more marketing oriented. So if you'd like see a different viewpoint, the article is well written, makes many good observations and is well worth reading.
Valley of the Geeks New "Valley of the Geeks" Book Blasts Silicon Valley

SANTA CRUZ, CA - January 28, 2003 - Tired of all the bad news about business scandals and an economic downturn that's sent Silicon Valley stock prices falling faster than a llama on a ski slope?

"Valley of the Geeks", a newly published book of high-tech satire, may be the cure to January blues. The book includes over 80 original essays that poke fun at Silicon Valley and its cast of characters including geeky programmers, unscrupulous sales people and conniving CEOs.

"Valley of the Geeks" takes its name from the award-winning web site www.valleyofthegeeks.com launch in early 2002. The site has drawn accolades from the San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, Washington Post and others for its biting satire on Silicon Valley.

Features such as "Banner Ads We'd Like to See," "Unofficial HP FAQ" and advertising spoofs have been some of the most popular items on the site. The book includes the best material from the web as well as new essays not available elsewhere. Companies such as WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, Merrill-Lynch, Sun, HP and Microsoft all get their comeuppance.

The author:- Zack Urlocker is a pseudonym for a Silicon Valley executive rapidly approaching mid-life crisis. In his spare time, Mr. Urlocker is a marathon runner and digital piano tuner. He is married and has five computers.

Valley of the Geeks", 232 pages, price $14.95, is available at major online resellers, chain stores and independent booksellers. ...Valley of the Geeks (book)
SQL Slammer Virus
. Its lack of visible symptoms increases the danger of the SQL Slammer Virus

MADRID - January 27, 2003 - Panda Software's International Tech Support Service is receiving a large number of inquiries about SQLSlammer from across the globe.

As this worm does not have any visible symptoms (files, e-mail messages, etc.), it is difficult for users to identify its presence on their systems. The multinational antivirus developer also highlights that a large number of systems could be exposed to SQLSlammer without network administrators realizing. The reason for this is that many applications use a Microsoft SQL Server component as an add-in. As this malicious code exploits a vulnerability in servers running the Microsoft SQL applications, systems that do not have Service Pack 3 installed can easily fall prey to this virus.

The main applications that use Microsoft SQL Server include: Compaq Insight Manager; Crystal Reports Enterprise; Dell OpenManage; HP Openview Internet Services Monitor; Microsoft .NET Framework SDK; Microsoft Office XP Developer Edition; Microsoft Project; Microsoft Visio 2000; Microsoft Visual FoxPro; Microsoft Visual Studio.NET and Veritas Backup Exec.

The main aim of SQLSlammer is to launch denial of service attacks (DoS) against corporate network servers by sending multiple packets containing the worm's code to port 1434. Its functioning and characteristics are similar to Code Red, which exploited a vulnerability in IIS and could spread very rapidly without leaving any trace in traditional storage devices.

According to Computer Economics, in 2001 the impact of Code Red reached 2,970 million euros. ...Panda Software
SQL Slammer Web Virus Provides Strong Sales Pitch for Sun Servers

Editor:- January 27, 2003 - there was a great advert today for Solaris caused by the shutdown of thousands of web sites worldwide due to a web virus which attacked Microsoft based servers.

Our own ISP, Verio, shut down their datacenter this morning as a precaution to isolate the virus. Later information showed that the virus was memory resident.

The networks load demands of the virus indirectly affected all web sites on the Verio network - not just those hosted on NT. As a result our publications went offline for 8 hours. We apologise to readers for this inconvenience.

Some regions, like Asia, where the virus is assumed to have started, fared worse, with widespread shutdowns of web sites reoprted over the weekend.

Although users don't have control over what their ISP does, criminals who create viruses seem to find it easier to attack Microsoft based systems than those running Solaris. This targeting may be a good argument for companies to set up pure 100% Sun shops, that is server farms which do not contain any hosts running Microsoft operating systems.

Microsoft says that a patch for the SQL Server 2000 vulnerability was released as long ago as July 2002. Nevertheless millions of users have been unable to access web sites today because of this server based virus.

Is there a market for higher priced web hosting based on higher security infrastructure?

My guess is - yes. Maybe Sun should make more marketing capital out of this issue.

It's unlikely that other major Unix server vendors such as HP or IBM will use this incident to talk up the superiority of Unix derivatives over Microsoft servers. That would jeopardize their relationships with Microsoft.

See also:- STORAGE Security

Wondering what to do with a can of worms? - See recipe for Laura's Worm Custard
SimDesk Houston Closes the Office Door on XP

Editor:- January 24, 2003 - an interesting story has emerged this week of how one organization, the city of Houston, exasperated with aggressive monopolistic style licensing demands, has dumped Microsoft Office on thousands of PC desktops. The story, which started on USA TODAY, is repeated on SimDesk's web site.
Ximian
. Miguel de Icaza, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ximian, said: "With Ximian Evolution, the Mono Project and the range of its Linux offerings, Ximian aims to make Linux integrate tightly into mixed computing environments, and to free corporations to implement the most stable, scalable and cost-effective systems available today. These awards recognize not just Ximian, but the entire community of open source developers who have contributed their time and talents to the GNOME project, on which Ximian Evolution is based, and to Mono."
Ximian Evolution and Mono Project Awarded Top Honors At LinuxWorld Conference & Expo

NEW YORK, NY - January 23, 2003 - Ximian, Inc. announced today that it received two prestigious LinuxWorld Open Source Product Excellence Awards. Ximian™ Evolution™, the premier personal and workgroup information management solution for Linux and UNIX-based systems, was named Best Front Office Solution and the Mono™ Project, an open source community collaboration led by Ximian, won the award for Best Open Source Project.

Ximian Evolution, in use by hundreds of thousands of users around the world, uniquely integrates email, calendar, contact and task list management in one powerful, fast and easy-to-use application. The product's broad support for data exchange and communications standards enables Linux and UNIX users to be integrated into corporate networks and messaging systems. Evolution supports a broad range of Linux distributions and UNIX variants, including Solaris, Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE and more. The company also offers Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange, add-on software that enables Linux and UNIX users of Ximian Evolution to be full clients of Microsoft Exchange 2000 systems.

At the show, Ximian and Sun Microsystems announced Sun™ ONE Connector for Ximian Evolution, which enables integration of Evolution users with the Sun ONE Calendar and Messaging Servers to support calendaring, shared address book access, task and contact management, and centralized mail storage. ...Ximian profile
Gartner Gartner Dataquest Says 14 Vertical Markets to Increase IT Spending in 2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. - January 21, 2003 - Worldwide IT spending in business vertical markets is forecast to reach $2.1 trillion in 2003, a 4.9% increase over 2002, according to Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc. Gartner Dataquest covers IT spending projections for 14 vertical business segments, and the forecast for 2003 shows all of the markets increasing IT spending. These results show a slight recovery from the last few years. In 2001, five segments decreased spending and, in 2002, there were three markets that cut their IT spending.

Worldwide IT spending by vertical markets includes business spending on IT, as well as internal IT spending. It does not include consumer spending. According to the report, the industries that are projected to show the strongest growth in 2003 and 2004 are government and healthcare, but even these segments will attain only single-digit growth. ...Gartner profile
Naturetech

NextCom
UltraSPARC 64 bit Solaris Notebooks Break the $3,000 Barrier

Nashua, NH - January 20, 2003 - NextCom LLC announces the first sub $3,000 UltraSPARC 64 bit Solaris Notebook and mobile server. The Naturetech 747S product family bring the power of Sun Microsystems ™ 64 bit UltraSPARC IIe architecture and 64 bit Solaris operating system to a portable PC style notebook package without compromising performance and with an innovative hardware Personal ID security feature.

A $2,995 priced configuration includes a 14.1" high resolution TFT display, UltraSPARC IIe 400Mhz RISC processor, 2D/3D graphics, 30GB Hard drive, 256MB SDRAM, 10/100 Ethernet, floppy drive, Solaris 8 or 9, Sun's Star Office suite and an innovative Hardware Security ID feature. This hardware based personal ID security based on innovative technology from Naturetech™ includes a unique, self-contained digital signature ciphering security tracking device with over 800K password possibilities. With no software intervention, the locking mechanism is relatively hacker proof. When enabled, users cannot power on computer without this password preventing unauthorized access to any data and the system. ...Naturetech profile, ...NextCom profile

Editor's comments:- users been more used to seeing prices like $10,000 (and more) associated with a new SPARC notebook. This new pricing level makes SPARC notebooks affordable to everyone who needs them and could massively increase the take up for this type of product.
SBS Technologies

SKY Computers
. "InfiniBand makes a great deal of sense for embedded computing, a realm in which expensive proprietary components are being rapidly displaced by standardized, off-the-shelf equivalents," said Illuminata, Inc. Principal Analyst and IT Advisor Jonathan Eunice. "Not only does embedded InfiniBand make economic sense, it's a technical win given InfiniBand's baked-in resiliency, scalability, and highly efficient communications."
Industry Effort Launched to Establish InfiniBand® Architecture as Standard Interconnect In Embedded Computing

Long Beach, CA - January 20, 2003 - Today a group of technology companies announced the launch of an industry effort to establish the InfiniBand® architecture as the premier interconnect fabric in embedded computing.

The co-sponsoring companies, Mellanox Technologies, SBS Technologies and SKY Computers, announced they will lead a newly established Embedded InfiniBand Subgroup within the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA). The companies also announced that they have developed a special interest group for embedded InfiniBand within the VMEbus International Trade Association (VITA). The announcement was made at the Bus&Board 2003 Conference in Long Beach, California. ...IBTA profile, ...Mellanox Technologies profile, ...SBS Technologies profile, ...SKY Computers profile, ...VITA

See also:- InfiniBand software & systems
Antares Microsystems
. "This is an ideal solution for those Enterprise customers who would like to utilize and improve their existing servers without the purchase of a new server," said George Berry, Antares Microsystems President.
Antares Scheduled to Release Enterprise 450 Series Upgrade Kit

CAMPBELL, CALIFORNIA - January 17, 2003 - Antares Microsystems today announced a SCSI performance upgrade kit for existing Sun Enterprise 450 series systems. These servers will now have an option to upgrade to SCSI 320m, Ultra 3 or Ultra 2. ...Antares Microsystems profile
Naturetech

NextCom

The first available USB Flash disk with Solaris support

Nashua, NH - January 16, 2003 - NextCom LLC announces today the availability of a pen size Sun flash drive peripheral, made by Naturetech, which also has an integrated MP3 player. Unix professionals now have the ultimate mobile productivity and enjoyment tool.

For the first time, Unix professionals with Sun Microsystems™ SunBlade workstations have a pen size peripheral that is hot pluggable with these workstations for removable and portable storage. They can also now plug and play exchange data files with other platforms including Win 2000/ME/XP, Mac OS 9.x/10.1.2 or above, and any Linux distribution based on the 2.4 kernel. Storage capacities are available in 128MB, 256MB, and 512MB capacities.

Another first is the integration of a digital MP3 player and stero headphones into this product. The MP3 player utilizes enhanced hardware decompression technology from Naturetech for superior music and audio quality. Now Sun power users can listen to music while they work or audio presentations while they travel. ...Naturetech profile, ...NextCom profile

Sun Microsystems
. Steve McGowan, Sun's Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Resources said, "Despite the difficult economic environment, we are pleased that, on a sequential basis, we grew revenue, improved our gross margin percentage and reduced operating expenses, and achieved positive cash flow from operations." McGowan added, "Overall, our balance sheet is very strong with more than $5 billion in cash and marketable securities and net equity of over $7 billion."

Sun's Chairman, CEO and President Scott McNealy said, "The Sun team put in a solid performance this quarter. We delivered sequential quarterly revenue improvement, lower costs and better value to customers, and growth in key businesses."

Editor's notes:- here's a revenue comparison for the same period in previous years.
  • Q2-03 - $2.915 billion
  • Q2-02 - $3.108 billion
  • Q2-01 - $5.115 billion
  • Q2-00 - $3.554 billion
  • Q2-99 - $2.784 billion
Sun Microsystems Reports Second Fiscal Quarter Results

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - January 16, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUNW) reported results today for its fiscal second quarter which ended December 29, 2002. Revenues for the second quarter were $2.915 billion, a decline of 6% as compared with $3.108 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2002. Total gross margin as a percent of revenues was 43.3%, an increase of 6.7% as compared with the second quarter of fiscal 2002. Net loss for the second quarter of fiscal 2003 was $2.283 billion or $.72 net loss per share.

Net loss for the second quarter includes a $2.125 billion expense related to the impairment of goodwill and other intangible assets. In addition, Sun recognized in the second quarter $357 million in expense related to previously announced restructuring actions. Excluding these items, as well as an in-process research and development expense of $4 million, losses on equity investments of $11 million and the related tax benefit of $204 million for all of these items, net income for the quarter was $10 million, slightly better than break-even on a per share basis. This compares with a net loss excluding special items of $99 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2002.

On a sequential basis, revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2003 increased $168 million or six percent from the first quarter. Gross margin as a percent of revenue for the second quarter increased 2.1 percentage points from the overall gross margin percentage in the first quarter of fiscal 2003. Net loss for the second quarter increased $2.172 billion from the net loss of $111 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2003, primarily due to the impairment of intangible assets and restructuring charges. Net loss excluding special items improved $88 million from a net loss of $78 million to a net income of $10 million. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- although Sun's quarterly revenue takes it back to where it was in 1999, that's still a lot better than I expected in the darkest days of 2002 when I was worried that Sun was "sliding towards being a $10 Billion company." That's unlikely to happen anytime soon. And I think that, from now, on we may see some year on year revenue parity, or even growth.

Sun's huge $2 billion loss for the quarter looks scary. But this is a one off accounting adjustment. A lot of companies will have to make this kind of correction because of new accounting rules. The underlying reality is that with a 20% smaller headcount than its peak, Sun can still be profitable as a $12 billion a year company. I haven't changed my upbeat assessment of Sun's prospects for 2003.

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