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2004, July

See also:- article:- Fujits...Who? - A Primer on Fujitsu's SPARC Heritage
article:- Don't Miss the Early Signs of the Sun SPARC Market Recovery
article:- Are Sun's Days Numbered?
article:- Why Sun Should Acquire a Solid State Disk Company
article:- Hardware Upgrades to Make Your Sun SPARC Server Go Faster
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AMD Opteron Processor Drives Powerful New Enterprise Servers and Workstations from Sun

SUNNYVALE, CALIF - July 26, 2004 - AMD announced today that the AMD Opteron processor will power the 4P Sun Fire V40z server as well as the 1P Sun Java workstation W1100z and 2P Sun Java workstation W2100z, the latest in a family of AMD Opteron processor-based products from Sun Microsystems.

Designed for high performance enterprise computing environments, the Sun Fire V40z server is immediately available from Sun and is already being established as an industry-leading x86 four-way server based on recent industry benchmarks. The new W1100z and W2100z workstations are the first AMD Opteron processor-based workstations from Sun and are designed to maximize end user productivity.

"AMD is on a mission to obsolete 32-bit-only servers, taking a leadership role in transitioning the industry to pervasive 64-bit computing. The AMD Opteron processor is changing the economics of the four-way server market and is the only 4P processor available today that can offer simultaneous 32- and 64-bit x86-based computing," said Marty Seyer corporate vice president and general manager of the AMD Microprocessor Business Unit. "Sun and AMD are helping ensure four-way solutions are no longer cost-prohibitive for IT managers, while the new AMD Opteron processor-based workstations from Sun will deliver new levels of performance for end users across a broad range of industry segments."

The new AMD Opteron processor-based servers and workstations from Sun can run on Solaris, Linux, or Windows with full Windows Hardware Qualification List certification. ...AMD profile

Editor's comments:- one of the problems with Sun's Solaris strategy for Intel Architecture platforms is that it's not a complete server platform in the same way that SPARC/Solaris or Intel/Window or Intel/Linux. x86 Solaris is a tactical product which can provide good cost/performance for a small range of performance envelopes rather than a strategic solution for the whole enterprise.

Sun's recent financial results confirm that the current SPARC/Solaris base is still increasing and that a standard platform which scales from notebooks to supercomputers is still an attractive proposition for many users because of lower administration costs.

The processor cost difference between AMD and SPARC does make a difference for new startup companies or simple appliance type servers in older companies - but most users have to operate in a more complicated and messier environment in which the management of risk is also an important factor. And x86 Solaris still counts as a "very risky" platform with a tainted past and an uncertain future.

As Predicted - Sun is Back on the Road to Revenue Growth

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - July 20, 2004 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. reported results today for its fiscal fourth quarter and full fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2004.

Revenues for the fourth quarter grew to $3.110 billion, an increase of 4.3% as compared with $2.982 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003. Total gross margin as a percent of revenues was 39.4%, a decrease of 4.3%age points as compared with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003. Net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004 was $795 million or $0.24 per share as compared with a net loss of $1.039 billion or a net loss of $0.32 per share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003.

For the full 2004 fiscal year, Sun reported revenues of $11.185 billion, a decline of 2.2% as compared with $11.434 billion for the full 2003 fiscal year. Total gross margin as a percent of revenues was 40.4%, a decline of 2.8 percentage points as compared with the 2003 fiscal year. The net loss for fiscal year 2004 was $376 million or a net loss of $0.11 per share as compared with a net loss of $3.429 billion or a net loss of $1.07 per share for the 2003 fiscal year.

"Delivering growth and preliminary profits in Q4 is a great way to end the year, with 46% server unit volume growth year-over-year and a sequential increase of 18%," said Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "We enter the new fiscal year with a strong balance sheet, the strongest product and services portfolio in our history, and the largest developer and partner communities we've ever had. We're delivering innovations based on some of the industry's most coveted technologies, Solaris OS and Java platform, running on industry standard SPARC, AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon processors. In fiscal 2005, we're focused on growing revenue and market share, generating cash, achieving sustained profitability, and rewarding long-term shareholders." ...Sun profile

Editor's comments:- in my April article First Signs of Sun Market Recovery I said that increased pageview activity in the SPARC Product Directory and other factors were a strong predictive indicator that Sun would have a good quarter, and that Sun could now look forward to year on year revenue growth for FY 2005. So no surprises here for anyone who reads these articles.

Sun's MAL Maintenance Policy is Mal (Bad) for Users Says ASCDI

Editor:- July 20, 2004 - in an article written by ASCDI and published today in the SPARC Product Directory - Sun comes under fire for its MAL Maintenance Policy.

"Mal" is the French for "bad", and Sun Microsystems' policy regarding Maintenance Acceptability Level is Mal for users according to this article by ASCDI. Sun's policies are out of line with industry practises and have the effect of reducing competition and increasing prices in the secondary Sun market. the article, ...ASCDI profile, 3rd Party Maintenance & Repair for SPARC systems

NextCom Announces Hi Res Graphics in a $2,400 UltraSPARC Notebook

Nashua, NH - July 9, 2004 - NextCom LLC announces the availability of high resolution graphics in an UltraSPARC Notebook at the significant price/performance offering of under $2,400 for commercial applications that require 64 Bit UltraSPARC and mission critical Solaris from Sun Microsystems.

NextCom now offers an SXGA+ 1400x1050 14" TFT display in its line of NextBlade 160 Series Small Footprint Desktop and Mobile Graphics Notebooks which are available with UltraSPARC IIe, IIi 400, 500, 650MHz, 256MB/512MB/1GB buffered ECC SDRAM and Solaris 8 or 9. Product availability is 2 weeks ARO. ...NextCom profile, SPARC Notebooks

Intransa Ships 125th IP SAN to SPARC Solaris Customer

SAN JOSE, Calif. - July 7, 2004 - Intransa, Inc. today announced that it has shipped its 125th IP SAN system to Sapiens International Corporation N.V. a leading global provider of insurance business solutions.

Intransa's IP5000 IP SAN system was chosen by Sapiens to replace EMC's Symmetrix Fibre Channel systems hosting mission critical data housed in clustered and standalone Oracle databases as well as network user storage space.

The 125th customer shipment of an IP SAN system underscores the escalating adoption rate of IP SAN as an easy to use and cost effective data storage alternative to Fibre Channel. This win further validates Intransa's leadership position in delivering IP SAN solutions to market. EqualLogic, the company's closest rival, has recently announced its 100th customer shipment.

"In selecting the Intransa IP SAN solution we evaluated all the options available on the market and were beyond compare, " said Raanan Kadouri, IT Director at Sapiens. "When we tested the IP5000, the performance and user benefits immediately jumped out only price but total impact of functionality and TCO, and Intransa by far offered the best cost-performance ratio."

"As a certified partner and a member of our iForce family, Sun is excited to see Sapiens base their deployment on Intransa's leading IP SAN solution. The IP5000 is a solid match with stability and performance of Sun Solaris operating system and Sparc-based servers," said Jamshed Doctor, Senior Manager iForce Solutions Center, Sun Microsystems.

Intransa's solution for Sapiens is based on Solaris to meet the needs of the organization today and provide a simple expansion path as the organization's needs evolve. The IP5000 SAN system cost effectively increases capacity by simply adding additional disk enclosures without the burden of additional software licenses or adding expensive storage controllers. Furthermore, as a native IP system, management is simple and straightforward by leveraging the ubiquitous familiarity with IP networking and administration. No proprietary or specialized knowledge is required that is the case with competing technology, such as Fibre Channel. ...Intransa profile, iSCSI, NAS

Editor's comments:- that gives Intransa about 20% of iSCSI user sites worldwide.

Fujits...Who? - A Primer on Fujitsu's SPARC Heritage

Editor:- July 5, 2004 - If you're an end user betting the server farm on SPARC/Solaris or a Sun VAR wondering if you've got a future - a new article published today in the in the SPARC Product Directory called - "Fujits...Who? - A Primer on Fujitsu's SPARC Heritage" tells you stuff you need to know.

SPARC users now have to look to Fujitsu, and not Sun, as the spring from which faster SPARC chips and servers will flow. Fujitsu is a company you may not know much about. This independent article provides a history of Fujitsu's main contributions and milestones in the SPARC market. the article
AMD Opteron Drives New Enterprise Servers from Sun

Sun Back on the Road to Revenue Growth

Sun's MAL Maintenance Policy is Mal (Bad) for Users

Hi Res Graphics in a $2,400 UltraSPARC Notebook

Intransa Ships 125th IP SAN to SPARC Solaris Customer

Fujits...Who? - A Primer on Fujitsu's SPARC Heritage

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What Does Sun's Home Page Tell You?

Editor:- July 7, 2004 - I've noticed recently that if you didn't know already that Sun Microsystems designs and manufactures SPARC based servers and is responsible for creating one of the world's top three most important server operating systems, you sure wouldn't get this impressions just by looking at their home page.

Although today's home page is much better than some I've seen recently. The worst examples were more like the home page you'd expect for a $10 million revenue per year software compiler company. Sun does make compilers, in which category I place Java, but that's probably less than a few percent of their revenue and even if I'm a bit wrong about that number the Java business is not going to replace $8 billion / year of lost server revenue.
Now some people might argue that everyone already knows what Sun does, so it doesn't have to make a song and dance about SPARC and Solaris on its home page. But I would say that we've had years of evidence to the contrary in the shape of Sun's less than stellar financial reports. That shows conclusively that not everyone knows and fewer people care.

One of the important lessons you learn in IT marketing is that big changes come from the bottom up. Not from the top down. 3.5 inch disks replaced 5.25 inch disks which replaced 8 inch disks and so on. The microprocessor replaced the TTL and ECL cards which were the processor in minicomputers and mainframes. Sun's earliest SPARC workstations became the stealth multi processor servers which eventually changed the datacenter in the mid 1990s.

This well documented phenomenom is partly because every year millions of new people come into the IT market as users, buyers, designers etc and to start off with they know nothing but are keen to learn. In their early years they don't have much budget to risk but they build up preferences for new suppliers which later become critical. When they become more senior maybe three to five years later computer companies have an uphill struggle to try and influence them because they've already been making their minds up as they went along and their suppliers have grown with them.

My gut feel is that Sun's misdirected marketing in recent years, means that it has lost a whole generation of potential new customers, who probably think of Sun, if they do at all, as a company which made a lot of money out of its proprietary brand of Unix, and doesn't realize that Linux and faster Intel chips have changed the rules.

In the late 1990s Sun's screwball marketing mistakes didn't matter so much because Sun had thousands of partner companies which actively evangelized its core technologies. Now most of those partners have disappeared or are working with competing technologies and so Sun's success or failure depends a lot more on its own efforts.

That's why bad home page days, like bad hair days are important.

Which brings me back to Sun's financial results for the quarter and year which will be announced in a few weeks, after much analyst speculation and doom mongering.

My guess is this will be the last quarter in which we see a year on year revenue decline, and that throughout the coming year we could start seeing year on rises again. I've been saying this for several months. I'm positive about Sun's future. But they could still do a lot better. And they need to try harder. article:- Don't Miss the Early Signs of the Sun SPARC Market Recovery
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Naturetech, founded in 1998, is one of Sun Microsystems' iForce partners specialized in designing & manufacturing Solaris/SPARC based portable products.

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