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Sun Microsystems
. "After a dynamic year, momentum is shifting in favor of Sun," said Larry Singer, Sun's vice president, global information strategy office. "Our renewed investments in lowering customers cost and complexity are paying off. Over the past few months, we've responded to customer requests by delivering low cost solutions that pack enterprise-class functionality and reliability, and we're poised to continue to deliver what the customers need."
Sun narrowly gets back to #1 spot in Unix Server Shipments - on 15% lower revenue

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - May 30, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc today announced that the company grew its share of the worldwide UNIX server market, showing an increase in both factory revenue and unit shipment marketshare on a sequential quarter basis, comparing the fourth quarter of 2002 to the first quarter of 2003, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, which was released today.

In the UNIX market, Sun is the leader in unit shipments worldwide and tied for revenue. Sun gained sequential revenue marketshare in all three UNIX server segments tracked by IDC, according to its new server taxonomy-volume ($0-$25K), midrange enterprise ($25-$500K) and high-end enterprise (over $500K). ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- as I explained in an earlier article the average price of servers is falling, because users are unbundling network storage from their server purchases. The result for Sun is that their server revenue declined 15% in the reported period. See the extracts related to Sun's news today from the original IDC press release below.
Sun returns to #1 spot in Unix Server Shipments

Perle Systems Networking Products Added to GSA Schedule

ADAX Announces Combo Board with Onboard Ethernet and T1/E1 ports

Peritek's Dual-Head Graphics/Video Capture PMC Card

Sun Signs up as Distributor for Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Now You Can Afford a SPARC Notebook

What other People are Saying about Sun

Sun Drives Computing Dinosaurs Toward Extinction

Recovering from Administrator Induced Data Loss

TAG Introduces Rugged Touch Screen LCD

Imperial Releases Tuning Software for Sun Servers and Storage

earlier news - archive
Data Recovery
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When Megabyte's storage got broken, he knew how to fix it as good as new.
Nibble Re: SCSI terminators

When I first started using SCSI devices as a systems integrator in the mid 1980s the answer to - how many drives you could actually hang onto an inhouse made ribbon cable? - seemed to depend on trial and error.

In those days everything had little mechanical switches, called DIP switches, which enabled you to set up important configuration info such as the SCSI address and whether or not the terminators were to be connected on this device or not. The rule of thumb was that you had to connect the first and last devices physically looped on the chain of cables. Of course that helpful information failed to provide a simple solution to the artistic patterns of daisy chains intermixed with star offshoots around the back of the cabinet which our ingenious wiring people sometimes came up with. It was hard to get them to accept that sometimes a single long loop worked better than a lot of little limpet like add-ons.

When working on a group of so-called "identical" systems I would sometimes be mystified by an intermittent fault in one storage system, even when all the indivdual parts tested as OK. On closer inspection I might discover that some drives had the terminator resistor packs plugged in, while their counterparts in their twin systems didn't. The culprit would often be another project, which in the middle of the night cured their own problems and got closer to customer shipment by "borrowing" components from our own system, which they knew was still a long way in advance of the critical path.

A week or so later, I might be handed a packet with a bunch of terminators and told "These are to return the ones we borrowed." I learned to keep a secret stash of these little suckers for this type of emergency.

Eventually we learned of the existence of SCSI analyzers and other similar test equipment, which was plug and play, instead of the plug and fall off variety when we tried to see what what going on by hooking up about 30 test clips from a logic analyzer. That woudl produce insights only until another project pinched the analyzer, and deleted the custom trace settings... What do engineers do for entertainment nowadays? - I wonder.

Now things are a lot easier with almost everything controlled by software. Smart active terminators can measure the characteristics of the cabling and reflections on the line on reset and dynamically adjust the termination. With serial connections like Serial Attached SCSI and Serial ATA, the problems of data skew, cross talk and reflection are greatly simplified by the simpler cabing design. But proper termination still has a role in reliable system integration, even if its tacky details are invisible to the user.

See also:- SCSI terminators
BakBone Software
BakBone is a global company that develops high-performance storage software solutions including data backup/restore to tape and disk as well as optical storage management
Z's Laws - Predicting Future Flash SSD Performance
A reader asked me a very good question.

"Is there an industry roadmap for future flash SSD performance?"

That prompted other questions like...
  • How fast are flash SSDs going to be in 2009?, 2010? or 2012?
  • What are the technology factors which relate to flash SSD throughput and IOPS?
  • How close will flash SSDs get to RAM SSD performance?
There wasn't a simple answer I could give at the time. Clues lay scattered all across this web site and in my many one on one discussions with readers about the market...
But I agreed there should be a single place on the web where these answers could be found.

Forget Moore's Law. That gives you the wrong answer, and this article explains why. ...read the article
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news image IDC
. "First quarter results continue to illustrate increased customer adoption of network storage systems (NAS and Open SAN)," said Charlotte Rancourt, research director of IDC's Disk Storage Systems program. "Network storage for the first time represents more than half (53% revenue share) of the total external disk storage systems market, up 5 points from a year ago. The traditional direct-attached storage systems represents 42% of total external disk storage revenue in the first quarter, down from 46% a year ago." ...IDC profile
Perle Systems
. "When our government customers voiced an interest in purchasing networking and communications products from us, we very quickly identified Perle Systems as our vendor and partner of choice," said Dean Byler, Sales Manager at Tanager. "Perle products deliver the functionality, reliability, integral security, and lifetime warranties that our government customers demand."
Perle Systems Networking Products Added to Tanager GSA Schedule

NASHVILLE, TN and DUNKIRK, MD - May 22, 2003 - Perle Systems Limited and Tanager Inc. today announced that Perle's networking products are now available to Federal, State and local government agencies through Tanager's five-year U.S. GSA Federal Supply Schedule (GS-35F-0382N).

Since 1997, Tanager has been selling its technical support services to U.S. Federal government departments. For the first time, Tanager's GSA schedule now also encompasses an extensive range of hardware and software products, including Routers, Console Servers, Serial Servers and Remote Access Servers offered by Perle Systems.

A number of Federal, State, and local government agencies already rely on Perle's networking and communications products to address their connectivity needs, including White House communications, Voice of America and Pax River Naval Base. ...Perle Systems profile
ADAX ADAX Announces HDC-PCI Combo Board with Onboard Ethernet and T1/E1 ports

Berkeley, CA - May 20, 2003: Adax, Inc. today announced the release of a new HDC-PCI Combo Board, which is a major update to the PCI version of its HDC signaling protocol controller. Offering a powerful high-density solution for wireless, wireline and converging PSTN/IP network platforms, customers can now cost-effectively develop gateways or interfaces to IP networks without the need for racks and cPCI form factors. Using a PCI-based system, and incorporating Adax's HDC-PCI Combo board, customers can now bring solutions to market much more quickly, while realizing cost savings never before possible.

The new HDC-PCI Combo provides T1/E1 and Ethernet connections directly on the board, eliminating the need for an additional daughter card. In response to market demand for more integrated systems, Adax has met this need by adding Ethernet capabilities to a single card. This enables developers to use the Adax high-performance HDC cards for gateway-type solutions on PCI platforms, such as Linux-based PCs or Sun SPARC workstations. This is in addition to cPCI and PMC formats currently available for the HDC card, giving developers even more options in the creation of next-generation networks.

The Adax HDC-PCI Combo card is a high performance, high density, multiple protocol, channelized controller that supports both traditional SS7 and SIGTRAN protocols for SS7 over IP. It is available in two versions; either with 4 TI/E1 interfaces, or 2 T1/E1s and 2 Ethernet ports.

The HDC is dynamically configurable, and is capable of delivering a combination of up to 128 channels of SS7 MTP-2 64Kbps and 2Mbps HSL signaling, SCTP, LAPB/D/F, LAPV5, Frame Relay or HDLC. Multiple HDC cards can be installed together to provide a totally scalable, flexible and cost-effective solution. ...ADAX profile
Peritek
news image - Peritek
. "The dual channel Argus/PMC saves valuable board real estate while providing unmatched video input flexibility," said Victor Gold, president of Peritek. "With this new video digitizing software, Solaris system designers can now tap the Argus/PMC's full potential."
Peritek Adds Solaris Video Digitizing Software Support to High Performance Dual-Head Graphics/Video Capture PMC Card

OAKLAND, Calif. - May 20, 2003 - Peritek Corporation has announced expanded video input and display support under Solaris for its Argus/PMC dual-head graphics PMC module. The Argus/PMC now supports NTSC and PAL video capture under Solaris 2.6, 2.7 , 2.8 and 2.9. Argus/PMC is a dual channel PMC graphics board that features two independent video digitizers, each with three video capture channels. Two channels, one from each digitizer, can be simultaneously displayed.

The high-resolution Argus/PMC graphics controller supports two independent 2D/3D displays in Solaris/OpenGL and Windows/DirectX environments. Peritek's Standard Drawing Library (SDL) package provides a C-callable library for Linux and VxWorks environments. Backed by highly optimized 3D/OpenGL and 2D graphics software for Solaris, Argus/PMC delivers well-balanced, high performance graphics and video capture to the Sun market. Video input on the Argus/PMC is provided by two on-board video digitizers for NTSC/PAL composite video or S-Video capture.

Both of the Argus/PMC's display channels are powered by a Borealis graphics accelerator and supports screen resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 with up to 16.7 million colors (32 bpp). Each Borealis has 16 Mbytes of high speed SGRAM display memory which provides ample local storage for image and off-screen data such as texture maps, Z-buffer, and backing store. With its 128-bit wide memory bus, the Borealis can draw up to sixteen 256-color pixels each memory cycle for a raw drawing speed of 2 Gbytes/s.

To simplify boot-up in different operating system environments, Argus/PMC features a custom BIOS that supports both VGA and FCode. This enables the board to operate in virtually any SPARC or x86 system using VGA, sync-on-green (SOG), or DVI displays.

Pricing starts at $2,463 in 100 piece quantities. Availability is off-the-shelf. ...Peritek profile
Sun

Red Hat
Sun Signs up as Distributor for Red Hat Enterprise Linux

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - May 19, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a global alliance agreement with Red Hat to distribute Red Hat's Enterprise Linux operating system, and to broaden the use of each other's technologies. As part of the agreement, Red Hat will distribute Sun's Java Virtual Machine with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Sun will sell and support all x86 versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux including Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES and Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS. In collaboration with Red Hat, Sun will provide global services and support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux in heterogeneous environments. ...Red Hat profile

Editor's comments:- in my article last August A Better Windows than Windows... A Better Linux than Linux? - I mocked Sun's efforts to hijack and "improve" x86 Linux. Today's announcement from Sun, that it will resell the established Red Hat distribution instead, is more realistic and down to earth.
Tadpole Computer
. "The industry has been asking for greater value in an enterprise-class notebook solution that can run 64-bit applications, and only Tadpole has delivered on this," said Mark Johnston, president and CEO of Tadpole Computer. "Based on 20 years of experience in the 64-bit UNIX market, we've developed a notebook computer that gives users the opportunity to experience 64-bit computing on-the-go, at an unprecedented sub-$3,000 price. We're thrilled to be able to deliver the productivity-enhancing benefits of 64-bit computing to our existing customers, and to a whole new breed of users, wherever they're working."
Now You Can Afford a SPARC Notebook - Tadpole Computer Launches SPARCLE®

Cupertino, CALIF. - May 19, 2003 - Answering customers' demands for greater mobility, Tadpole Computer Inc., today unveiled its new entry-level 64-bit SPARCLE notebook line.

With a starting price of $2,995, the SPARCLE line represents an entirely new class of 64-bit mobile solutions designed to handle compute-intensive, technical applications wherever users are working. The new notebooks are available today from Tadpole and through select resellers.

SPARCLE is a full-featured 64-bit notebook offering 100% SPARC®/Solaris binary compatibility. Enabling users to run, develop and support 64-bit applications anywhere without having to bring a desktop workstation with them, the SPARCLE notebooks offer up to 650MHz processor speed, 2GB of RAM, 80GB hard drive and weigh less than 7 pounds. SPARCLE also delivers important features that power users have come to expect from their mobile solutions, such as a good battery life, 15"SXGA+ TFT screen, and broad peripheral support. Plus, SPARCLE is the first 64-bit laptop to feature fully integrated 802.11b Wi Fi wireless networking technology for the rapidly growing needs of mobile UNIX users. ...Tadpole Computer profile

Editor's comments:- now everyone who needs a mobile SPARC system can afford it. The SPARCLE will make it easier and cheaper for companies to provide technical support, training and disaster recovery for their SPARC systems. It's also good news for developers of desktop SPARC productivity solutions, because it will greatly increase the population of desktop SPARC users.
Forbes article about Sun What other People are Saying about Sun

Editor:- May 15, 2003 - a recent article in Forbes .com comments on Sun's current situation and an analyst report from Meta Group which apparently has caused a stir in Sun.

IMHO the Forbes article is worth reading but it contains an important factual error. Re the assertion...

"While many industry watchers have questioned Sun's strategy and its ability to compete with rivals, this is the first direct suggestion that McNealy, who co-founded Sun in 1982, should be replaced."

In my May 2001 article - Time for changes at the top in Sun? - I suggested pretty much the same thing.

!!But - I'm not so sure that would be the right thing to do now. Sun is not going to be a "me too" computer company, so it might as well stick with McNealy, who knows where all the skeletons are, and is worth much more than his salary in PR terms alone. So I guess I'm saying I was right then, but it would be bad for McNealy to go now, because Sun's opportunities are different to what they were when I wrote that pre 9/11 article.

As to the reported suggestion by Meta, that...

"To regain competitiveness, Sun must de-emphasize Sparc/Solaris and bet its future on Intel, Linux and Web services."

...that would have been good advice back in 1999 when I first suggested that Sun should diversify, but it's an ill informed and ridiculous idea today. Sun burned its boats in the Intel/Linux world a long time ago. Anyone who says that Sun can replace $8 Billion of SPARC/Solaris revenue with Intel inside stuff doesn't know what they're talking about. It's OK to say it. This is a free country. But the proposition is nutty.

Sun's best strategy, as I have said for many years, is to focus on the applications that SPARC does best. Make SPARC systems go faster (even if it's with the aid of I/O coprocessors and solid state disks). Increase the reliability, and stay on course with the long term compatibility of this platform. There's always a market for dependable products.
Sun success story Sun Microsystems Drives Computing Dinosaurs Toward Extinction with 1000th Mainframe Rehosting Software Installation

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. - May 14, 2003 - Underscoring the success of its robust alternative to the costly, complex, closed mainframe environment, Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced it has hit a major milestone with the 1000th mainframe rehosting customer installation at Europ Assistance Group.

Sun has been leading the 'UNIX mainframe' movement and maintains a leadership position in the high-end UNIX market. Sun's mainframe rehosting solutions have helped enable customers worldwide to run existing mainframe CICS, COBOL and batch applications - commonly found in commercial banking and insurance, manufacturing, retail and government - virtually unmodified but in a contemporary computing environment.

Europ Assistance Group operates in 208 countries, and has 3,200 associates in 32 companies all over the world. Europ Assistance dealt with 6. 5 million cases of assistance in the course of 2002. Its Italian subsidiary, Europ Assistance Italy, initiated an aggressive cost-reduction program, which lead to the decommissioning of the mainframe system.

Editor's comments:- I'm not an expert on dinosaurs... My nephew Jamie (age 3) is. Unfortunately I was unable to consult him on this, but I have a vague recollection that there were two main ages of dinosaur type creatures. The first lot got replaced by another lot (of dinosaurs). This press release from Sun is null information content hype, so I apologise for running it, but their headline did give me a good excuse to promote an emerging dinosaur-friendly business.
dinosaur soup
Data Recovery for Sun Servers Recovering Your Sun Hosted Business from Administrator Induced Data Loss

Editor: - May 14, 2003 - a new article is published today in the SPARC Product Directory written by Ron Austin at ActionFront Data Recovery, it's called "Recovering Your Sun Hosted Business from Administrator Induced Data Loss"

The article describes the true story of how one company which ran their business on a Sun server, hit a crisis when their administrator accidentally wiped their live data and their disk to disk backup.

Although the customer had support contracts in place, none of the suppliers of the constituent parts (Sun Microsystems, EMC, Veritas and Oracle) were able to help them. This is a cautionary tale of what can so easily go wrong, and what the customer did to avoid going out of business. ...read the article, ...ActionFront Data Recovery profile
TAG TAG Introduces Rugged Touch Screen LCD for Battlefield Use

WASHINGTON, DC - May 6, 2003 - TAG announces the release of its new rugged tactical keyboard LCD drawer with touch screen capability to its line of deployable keyboard display drawers. The anti-glare, anti-reflective touch screen enables the war fighter to access critical data and applications in direct sunlight.

The RLKT-17T features an active-matrix 1280x1024 TFT LCD display, resistive touch screen interface, and intuitive on-screen menus for full display calibration. The unit also contains a rugged, waterproof 121-key keyboard with an integrated trackball mouse. The touch screen interface and the trackball mouse can be used interchangeably.

The RLKT-17T is compatible with all major operating systems and offers either serial or USB connections to the server or workstation. ...TAG profile
Imperial Technology
. "Today's infrastructure vendors have focused on tuning individual server and storage devices without understanding the deterministic relationship between these devices," said Robert David, CEO and President, Imperial Technology. "To enable IT infrastructures to perform at their maximum capability, you have to manage the whole, not the individual pieces. While this may sound intuitive, there just haven't been tools to do this until now. Serv2Stor is like turning on a flashlight in a dark room – you can see exactly what's happening where ever you shine the light."
Imperial Technology Releases Tuning Software for Optimizing I/O Throughput Between Sun Servers and Storage

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - May 06, 2003 - Imperial Technology today announced Serv2Stor, a new software product that enables IT organizations to optimize and tune I/O throughput between servers and storage.

Serv2Stor effectively illuminates server and storage device interaction. If an I/O throughput issue exists, Serv2Stor not only identifies if it's a result of a server or a storage issue, but details what the problem is, where the problem is, and provides information to allow an administrator to remedy the situation.

For example, if application and file system block size is set to 16KB, and logical device block size is reading/writing 1MB, Serv2Stor identifies and reports this tuning parameter mismatch for possible action.

Serv2Stor also illuminates load balancing issues - a leading cause of I/O bottlenecks. Load balancing is a systemic problem that is very familiar to Database Administrators and System Administrators. Conceptually, solving load balance problems is simple - move some files off the too-busy disk to a less busy disk. Practically, execution is more difficult: which files to move, where to move them to, not knowing if you've moved enough files, and dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing that in solving one problem that you're not creating another. There have been no tools designed to answer these questions until Serv2Stor.

Serv2Stor discretely identifies files per storage device, how much of the storage device's capability those files are using, and storage devices that are either over provisioned or under provisioned in terms of I/O capability usage. With this level of illumination, administrators have an effective tool to understand the ramifications of their actions before making critical infrastructure changes.

Unlike simplistic and cumbersome modeling tools that rely upon averages, Serv2Stor uses actual real-time instrumented data to illuminate I/O flow and identify bottlenecks, imbalances, and misaligned parameters for prompt resolution. Serv2Stor for Solaris is available immediately with support for other operating environments planned for a future date. ...Imperial Technology profile
Sun Microsystems SUNW Rises on Acquisition Rumors

Editor:- May 2, 2003 - Bloomberg TV on Friday flashed a message that Sun Microsystems stock price was rising fueled by rumors of an acquisition. No further information is available at this time.

See also:- my comments on this subject in the archived news article - Who's Going to Buy Sun Microsystems? (The Company) - which I wrote when SUNW dropped to $5 last year. The article date was July 11, 2002.

...Later - in the 4 days following this there has been total silence on Sun's own web site. But that's not unusual nowadays. They often have nothing to say in their news pages. I expect the hype factory is cooking up something new which we'll get to hear later.

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