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News about SPARC systems and related companies

2003, February weeks 1 - 2

See also:- Squeak! - the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
article:- a Short History of Disk to Disk Backup
article:- Revisiting One of SPARC's Old Flames
article:- Joining the Marketing Dots in OpenSPARC
article:- the Benefits of Serial Attached SCSI for External Subsystems
current SPARC news, earlier SPARC news, Events, SPARC articles, articles about storage
SPARC history:- February 2000, Feb 2001, Feb 2002, Feb 2003, Feb 2004, Feb 2005, Feb 2006

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Camera Link digital camera interface, single slot PMC from EDT
PMC Digital Camera Interface
from EDT
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Parallax Graphics Wanted! - 15 to 20 SBus Parallax Graphics Cards

Editor:- February 14, 2003 - Sometimes I get asked questions about where to get Sun compatible products to which I really don't have a good answer. A systems integrator in California needs to get hold of 15 to 20 obsolete SBus cards which used to be made by Parallax Graphics. They are part number XVC-Xtra.

Now it's 5 years since Parallax was last in business, so this is a tough one!

If any of you have these products lying around in an old system or drawer somewhere and would like to recycle them contact me Subject: Parallax Graphics Cards saying how many you have and your details. I will forward your email onto the person who needs them. Thanks in advance.
Wanted! - 15 to 20 SBus Parallax Graphics Cards

SyncServer 1000 Released - Converts X.25, Frame Relay and SNA Networks to IP for Immediate Savings

Leading UK Research Centre Deploys Atempo's Time Navigator

Logical Solutions Introduces SCS160 Secure Console Server

RAMiX Celebrates 1O Years of I/O Excellence

Sun Launches 1.2GHz SPARC Servers & Reduces Prices

The first available USB Ethernet adapter with Solaris 8 and 9 support

Sun Vamps Up Solaris 9 for Intel Architecture Platforms

Gartner Dataquest Survey Identifies the Leading Web Services Products that Systems Integrators Plan to Support in 2003

Lightwave Communications Founders Launch New Technology Venture - Logical Solutions

Sun Confuses Everyone by Changing Partner Programs Again

earlier news - archive
solid state disks
Solid State Disks on
Megabyte went through his Michelangelo phase. "Somewhere in that lump of rock is a solid state disk..."

View from the Hill

That new blade looks good, sounds good. But will it stop your system working?

anaging the old server farm is getting more difficult nowadays. What's the business going to be doing next year? Will it be bigger? Smaller? What are the critical applications which are going to eat up all your server power and bandwidth? Which critical supplier is going to disappear, leaving you with the extra workload of engineering a band aid workaround? Oh yes - and your IT budget is going to be much less than you really need to cope. Again.

At times of high uncertainty, users can reduce risk by choosing flexible solutions which can be built (or unbuilt) incrementally. Monolithic solutions which claim to offer lower total cost of ownership sound fine on the vendor's web site, but you can't afford to bet the farm on a single solution, knowing your target may have changed before the new system is even installed.

Maybe that's one of the reasons we've been seeing such high reader interest in SPARC blade products on the SPARC Product Directory web site in recent quarters. Pageviews on SPARC blade pages overtook volume on rackmount SPARC systems last year, and oscillates with SPARC portables in being the #1 or #2 most popular product area that our readers visit. In this context SPARC blades (as opposed to SPARCblades which are a trademark of Continuous Computing) are single board SPARC computers, which are designed for easy insertion into rackmount systems.

The flavor of the month for high performance SPARC blade backplane architecture is compact PCI. Market analysts have been saying that standard form factors like this one will succeed in the market in preference to proprietary solutions from any small group of vendors. Compact PCI is mechanically based on the decades old Eurocard form factor - which also spawned the VMEbus. But its timing specs are rooted in the ubiquitous and similarly named PCI. The first cPCI SPARC SBC was launched 1997 by Force Computers, but now 6 manufacturers compete in this SPARC space, and I confidentally predict that the number will grow when the product marketers have digested the reality of this trend.

Plugging an another processor when you need it is an attractive idea. Even better than the preinstalled extra processors shipped in Sun mainframes, the blade concept holds out the promise that when you plug in a new processor in about 12 months time, it could be faster and cheaper than the original generation of processors with which you started.

However that's when you'll learn that most manufacturers don't test their cards properly in heterogenous systems, and every now an again you're going to find that adding a new card will stop the older ones working.

Before my cut and paste career as editor of this publications, I managed a technical group which supported the 1980s equivalent of today's blades - based on the 6U VMEbus form factor. Back then we supported over 130 different cards including manufacturers like Sun, Force, Motorola and dozens more companies which made specialised processors or I/O. The list of cards which we found didn't work in our systems was almost as long as the list of those we used. Usually the failed cards would work fine by themselves, or if they were only used in simple configurations with other cards from the same manufacturer. But often you would find that putting 3 or 4 cards of the same type in a system would stop it working. "Why would you want to put so many processors in a rack?" we would be asked by vendors. "We never thought anyone would do that."

Timing problems were the least of our worries, because they could be ferreted out quickly.

Subtle problems would arise due to cabling design. When you tried putting 8 high density I/O cards next to each other, the thickness and inflexibility of the cables would sometimes make it difficult to route the signals out of the card cage without making it a couple of inches deeper. Space which just wasn't there. That's not a problem which you see coming until too late.

Some cards were easier to insert than remove. You'd eventually figure out that a rogue high performance card had been designed to fit into a single slot, but actually consumed about five times as much power as the maximum power budget defined by the bus specs. The plastic connectors on these cards melted slightly and would stick to the backplane. So, after a few months of operation, when you tried swapping the card as part of your fault finding process - you couldn't get the damn thing out without using excessive force and nearly ripping your fingers off.

Thermal problems caused the hardest to solve of intermittent faults. If you were lucky you might discover the tell tale blackening caused by hot spots on adjacent cards having a bake off. The symptoms would be that the system would work fine for a couple of days, and then just fail due to heat exhaustion... Once a new card we tried, set our system on fire.

The blade approach is a powerful and flexible paradigm, and you'll be glad you used it. But its simplictity is deceptive. No single manufacturer makes the best of everything you want.You'll have to learn new skills of detection, and like Sherlock Holmes, you'll have to use evidence and logic to pin the blame on the right culprits. But you can have a lot of fun too, and your skills will become greatly sought after and highly valued. So, when the upturn comes, and you've saved your organization a bundle on monolithic alternatives, that might be a good time to put in for a pay rise.

Sun Ray compatible notebooks from Accutech
Sun Ray compatible notebooks
from Accutech Ultrasystems

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The Software Group
. "Many legacy networks with X.25, Frame Relay and SNA are still used today - telephone switches, point of sale systems, ATMs, credit/debit terminals, train signalling systems, and field data collection devices to name just a few. These legacy networks are quite reliable and companies have invested a great deal in hardware and applications," says Derek Vair, President of TSG. "SyncServer was developed to allow these legacy networks to be economically integrated with IP, allowing legacy data to be converted and carried over IP networks. The result is a much simpler, easier to manage IP-based network that provides immediate cost savings. Companies can eliminate separate data lines, and stop being concerned about the supply and maintenance of legacy equipment".
SyncServer 1000 Released - Converts X.25, Frame Relay and SNA Networks to IP for Immediate Savings

Barrie, Canada -February 12, 2003 - The Software Group (TSG) today announced the release of SyncServer 1000, a low-cost Linux appliance that provides easy integration of legacy WANs with IP networks. SyncServer allows companies to transparently convert older communications transport protocols such as X.25, Frame Relay, and SNA to IP, giving legacy applications direct access to IP-based LANs, intranets, and the Internet.

SyncServer is a small, modem-like device that connects directly to any legacy WAN (X.25, Frame Relay, SNA), eliminating the need for costly network redesign or changes to host system communications equipment. SyncServer includes an API for integration with host application programs, and can be configured and administered remotely using a web browser. Only one SyncServer is required per physical network link.

SyncServer is available immediately. Suggested retail list pricing is $1495.00 U.S. ...The Software Group
Atempo Leading UK Research Centre Deploys Atempo's Time Navigator

HEATHROW, UK - February 12, 2003 - Atempo today announced that the British-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) deployed Atempo's Time Navigator to protect over 40 terabytes of science data.

With assistance from Atempo the solution was deployed throughout the organisation in record time at 12 different sites across the UK in an 8-week period. Time Navigator is running in a heterogeneous environment which includes P-4000 Series Gigabit attached libraries and P-1000 SCSI attached libraries from Quantum. The solution provides backup up for Network Appliance filers at each site; more than 120 Windows infrastructure and application servers; and more than 100 Unix servers (Tru64 and Solaris). ...Atempo profile
Logical Solutions
news image - Logical Solutions
Logical Solutions Introduces SCS160 Secure Console Server

Milford, CT- February 12, 2003 - Logical Solutions introduces the SCS160 Secure Console Server. In the demanding world of Systems Administration the challenge has been to integrate full-featured, reliable solutions within mandated budget constraints. The SCS160 Secure Console Server answers the call with features, performance and a surprisingly affordable price per port!

The SCS160 provides a secure alternative to terminal servers, delivering centralized management of serial command console ports on up to 16 devices through direct network access or a local terminal. Incorporating OpenSSHv2 for secure encryption, Open LDAP, and support for DHCP networks the SCS160 provides solid console management for a wide range of devices. Attached devices can be a variety of workstations, UNIX and Linux servers, LAN/WAN components, or management systems. Flash downloads make system updates a snap!

The SCS160 allows you to securely manage network data centers and servers. Authentication is provided via LDAP, NIS or an internal database. Each user's database entry also specifies access rights, so users may only access those devices for which they have authorization. Its small size (1U) and remote access features make the SCS160 ideal for remotely located servers and network devices. ...Logical Solutions profile

See also:- Terminal Servers, STORAGE Security

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. "Continuous investment in the company and our employees has been paramount in the success of the company so far and will continue in the establishment of the future," explains Saeed Karamooz, President and CEO of RAMiX Inc. "Despite the down-turn of the last 18 months, we have succeeded in not only sustaining our growth but in increasing it by over 40%, an accomplishment of which we are all naturally proud. As we enter our second decade of existence, we're all looking forward to the challenges ahead."
RAMiX Celebrates 1O Years of I/O Excellence

Ventura, California - February 10, 2003 - RAMiX Inc. is celebrating its first major anniversary : this month marks both the company's tenth anniversary and, for the industry, a decade of innovative product design and development for off-the-shelf connectivity products.

RAMiX Inc was founded in February, 1993 to provide open standard I/O solutions to the embedded industry. The initial product line, primarily consisting of flexible memory modules, quickly expanded to encompass what is probably today's largest offering of connectivity products based on the CPCI, VME, PMC and PCI specifications.

The key to RAMiX's continued success has been its ability to anticipate the requirements of the industry and its flexibility to meet those demands. Within the relatively short life-span of the company itself, the concept of I/O has developed at an outstanding rate: not only in the speed of the interfaces and the physical media, but also in the technology innovations behind those connections. RAMiX's product portfolio now spans a range of Embedded Switches, 10/100/1000-based Ethernet cards, Network Processors, Server Blades, Serial I/O and PMC expansion devices while still maintaining the original selection of memory modules, storage solutions and PCMCIA adapters.

Future complementary technologies, such as Infiniband, and the continued endorsement of specifications such as AdvancedTCA® will undoubtedly continue to position RAMiX as the premier supplier of choice. ...RAMiX profile
Sun Microsystems
. "While other vendors are abandoning UNIX®, Sun is doubling down on Solaris and remains the leading provider of UNIX systems," said Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president, Sun's Software Group. "While some customers may be feeling anxious about their vendor's UNIX commitment, Sun continues to provide both investment protection and a comprehensive roadmap of innovation for Solaris-based systems."
Sun Launches 1.2GHz SPARC Servers & Reduces Prices

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - February 10, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced a broad range of price and performance enhancements across its midrange and high-end, Solaris based Sun Fire system line, driving down TCO. In addition to continued SPARC® processor innovation, Sun announced reductions on U.S. list prices across its midrange and high-end Solaris systems - including the Sun Fire 4800, 6800, 12K and 15K servers - resulting in 25 to 35 percent price/performance improvements on most customer configurations.

Sun boosted processor performance of its midrange and high-end Sun Fire systems by 34 percent with the first system implementation of Sun's 1.2 GHz UltraSPARC® III processor, which uses the Sun ONE Compiler R8 technology and consumes 30 percent less power than current UltraSPARC III processors. Sun also added Enhanced Memory Placement Optimization technology, designed to improve system performance for memory-resident applications, such as high-performance technical computing, datawarehousing and ERP applications.

As a result of its new system upgrades, Sun set a new world record for the SAP-SD Benchmark, improving is own results by 44 percent on a Sun Fire 15K system. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- Sun created a rod for its own back by preannouncing this month's availability of the 1.2GHz SPARC processors last summer. Customers know that when new models ship all the old system prices get readjusted downwards. So they hold back on ordering if they can. Today's product announcments from Sun should result in a healthy boost to their revenue for this quarter.
news image - NextCom
The first available USB Ethernet adapter with Solaris 8 and 9 support

Nashua, NH - February 10, 2003 - NextCom LLC announces today the availability of the first USB Ethernet adapter with Solaris 8 and 9 support. Unix professionals now can add this portable network adapter to any Sun Microsystems™ SunBlade, Netra, SunRay Appliance with Sun Ray Server Software 2.0+ as well as NextCom's complete line of UltraSPARC notebooks and mobile servers. For the first time, Unix professionals with Sun Microsystems™ SunBlade workstations have a USB Ethernet adapter that support Sun workstations and can also plug and play with other platforms including Win 2000/ME/XP and any Linux distribution based on the 2.4 kernel.

Pricing starts at $435. Product availability is 2 weeks ARO ...NextCom profile

See also:- USB storage
Sun Microsystems Sun Vamps Up Solaris 9 for Intel Architecture Platforms

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - February 6, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today delivered on its redoubled commitment to the UNIX® platform, extending the full benefits of the Solaris OS to x86-based servers with the Solaris 9 x86 Platform Edition. Seeing a growing market opportunity, Sun is expanding its products and services into the x86 server market. While industry competitors abandon UNIX, Sun's strategy guarantees customer continuity and global support for UNIX on its entire line of both SPARC and x86 systems (that's really what it says - ed).

With the release of the Solaris 9 x86 Platform Edition, Sun is giving customers a proven, highly secure enterprise-class OS for entry-level servers. By offering management and hardening features previously unavailable on x86 servers, the Solaris 9 OS provides customers with a far more secure and less expensive alternative to Microsoft's competing Windows servers. The Solaris 9 OS also offers newly integrated Sun ONE products, along with secure networking and content delivery functionality. Sun expects to deliver an integrated Sun ONE software portfolio on the Solaris x86 Platform Edition within the calendar year.

Non-commercial usage is available at no charge, while commercial pricing starts at US $99; attractive OEM pricing is also available. Source code for Solaris will be available. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor:- Sun's proprietary attitude and many about faces on supporting Solaris on Intel Architecture leads me to think that most potential users of this product have long ago defected to Linux as a safer bet. Sun claims that the Solaris x86 Platform Edition has over 1.1 million registered licenses. But I remember similar claims from IBM about OS/2, when Big Blue marketers touted millions of licenses on systems which were never actually used or no longer in use. The key issue for Sun is whether anybody will trust them any more in the x86 market. Releasing source code will not be enough. Users will want to see that this solution has a real future. That will require a lot of work.
Gartner Dataquest
. "There is a proliferation of Web services products being used in the systems integration channel. However, there is an emerging distinction between the top three or four products that systems integrators will target for skills investment, and those Web services products they will use on an opportunistic basis at a client's request," said Michele Cantara, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest's IT Services group.
Gartner Dataquest Survey Identifies the Leading Web Services Products that Systems Integrators Plan to Support in 2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. - February 5, 2003 - As systems integrators plan to build Web services delivery capabilities in the next 12 months, Microsoft.Net, IBM WebSphere, and Oracle are the three leading Web services products they plan to support, according to a recent survey by Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc. In September 2002, Gartner Dataquest completed an Internet survey of 44 consulting and systems integration vendors in North America.

"According to our recent survey, Microsoft .Net was targeted by 58 percent of system integrators as one of the top three Web services products to ramp up delivery capability," said Michele Cantara, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest's IT Services group.. "Forty percent selected IBM Websphere, and 31 percent cited Oracle as one of their top three Web services products for capability investment."

In August of 2002, Gartner Dataquest completed an Internet survey among 138 enterprises that were using or planning to use a systems integrator within the next 12 months to design or implement a Web services solution. The survey showed 33 percent of end users that are working with systems integrators are planning to use Microsoft.Net, while 39 percent plan to use Java/J2EE. The survey shows that smaller companies tended to favor Microsoft.Net and large companies tended to favor J2EE architectures and products. ...GartnerGroup profile
Logical Solutions
. "Logical Solutions builds on Lightwave's foundation with a continuing commitment to developing and supporting the highest quality products in the industry. Purchasers of Logical Solutions products will benefit from decades of industry experience and dedication to customer satisfaction" states David Cheever, President of Logical Solutions.
Lightwave Communications Founders Launch New Technology Venture - Logical Solutions

Milford, CT - February 4, 2003 - The founders of internationally respected technology developer Lightwave Communications (which was acquired by Lantronix in 2001) have announced that they are embarking on a new venture called Logical Solutions.

Logical Solutions develops, manufactures, and sells leading edge products for the distribution and extension of digital video (DVI) and switching devices for access and management of server environments. Building on the successes of Lightwave Communications the company springs from a tradition of technological innovation.

For over twenty years Lightwave Communications provided customers with the most innovative, reliable, and affordable networking solutions. From its roots utilizing fiber optic technology for video distribution, Lightwave expanded its expertise to address the needs of network and systems administrators faced with increasingly complex server environments. By developing a complete line of keyboard, video, mouse, and serial switches as well as video extension systems, Lightwave enabled customers to consolidate and control their network and workstation environments as well as high performance, graphics intensive applications. ...Logical Solutions profile
Sun Partners Sun Confuses Everyone by Changing Partner Programs Again

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - February 3, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc., has completed the integration of two of the industry's most well-respected partner programs into one powerful program: Sun's iForce Partner Program. This program integrates the Sun Developer Connection Partner Program, previously Sun's single worldwide entry point for software development companies, into its iForce Partner Program, previously comprised largely of Sun channel and integration partners. Today's announcement marks a milestone for Sun by uniting all of the company's partner programs and initiatives under a single banner as part of Sun's iForce Initiative....Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- since Sun long ago ceased to be a marketing power house, its partner programs have delivered diminishing returns to its partners in recent years. Combining two weakly branded programs into one therefore makes a lot of sense. I still think that the SunBlest program which I described a few years ago would be more easily understood by customers and oartners alike.

current SPARC news

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Marketing Views STORAGEsearch SPARC Product Directory ACSL - the publisher

SPARC(R) is a registered trademark of SPARC International, Inc. SPARC PRODUCT DIRECTORY(SM) is a service mark of SPARC International, Inc used under license by ACSL. Products using the SPARC trademarks are based on an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.