Revisiting One of SPARC's Old Flames - SoftTech Solutions / On-Line!
Editor:- October 31, 2006 - I was first introduced to SoftTech Solutions by my colleague
Nev Griffin in about 1996.
Nev was a great networker who had worked at
SPARC International in the early years of
its formation, and who helped with me promote my independent
SPARC Product Directory in
the early 1990s. He later rejoined SI in December 1998 as its CEO following
the retirement of Ted Atlee.
In 1996 Nev was enthusiastic about a new
product - which at the time was called the Sun On-Line! Detective. He introduced
me to the company's founder Paul Violassi so we could talk about any marketing
At that time the detective concept provided very detailed
documentation on Sun's workstations and servers in electronic format (CD-ROM).
That's a concept which is intuitive to us now - after more than a decade of
the web. But at the time it was novel - and included far more useful information
for a systems integrator or product maintainer than was available from Sun
In those days I was contacting thousands of vendors in the Sun
market - to create bullet type product summaries - to help Sun itself, SPARC
oems, ISVs and users find each other via my database and publication. Later -
the web simplified the job of directory publishers - because we could just link
to the original information sources - instead of summarizing them on paper.
a few emails and calls with Paul Violassi we decided that apart from being in
the same market - there wasn't much scope for co-operation at the time and the
next time I heard from SoftTech was about 4 years later in March 2000 - when
they ran a banner ad on this site.
The original banner ad appears
below. Clicking on it will take you to a web page from that era archived on the
March 2000 -
a press release from SoftTech Solutions revealed that it had over 10,000 pages
of online documentation. That was a good time to be in the Sun market. Or so it
seemed. Sun reported a record $5 billion revenue for the quarter which ended
June 30, 2000. We didn't know it at the time - but the seeds of the dotcom bust
and IT recession were already being sown. |
Fast forward to October
The SPARC market has changed a lot. And so I was
surprised to learn from Paul Violassi this week that not only is the On-Line!
Detective still a current product - but that a new format of it is available
via the web.
The product has expanded into a trouble shooting and
diagnostics aid which covers a lot more than the earlier versions. It's support
all the legacy versions of Solaris and a new version in the pipeline supports
I asked what kinds of people were using it - and was told
it's all kinds of organizations - from independent
administrators in user sites and
How much does it cost?
I was told the online
product costs about $8,000 for a 5 user license for 1 year - which is a lot less
than the alternative costs of training people up to this competency level.
are many examples
in the history of the SPARC market where product or technology ideas pioneered
by independent companies were later copied, adopted or acquired by Sun. And
prompted by the success of the On-Line! Detective - Sun did eventually create
their own solution to meet this need. But for the many who still use
Detective today - it's a better product at a better price.
month in this new series I'll be revisiting another one of SPARC's Old Flames.
Training, Storage Testers &
|Sun Veteran Joins ProStor
BOULDER, Colo. -
October 23, 2006 - ProStor Systems today announced the appointment of
industry veteran Randy Kerns as its new chief technology officer.
Prior to joining ProStor, Kerns served as an independent industry
analyst, covering storage and storage management software including
NAS analysis. He also was
a partner at the Evaluator
Group, responsible for product analysis and company evaluation. Kerns
assisted major end-user clients in developing their storage strategies and
vendors with their product strategies.
With more than 30 years of experience in the computer technology
industry and a background in product design and development, Kerns has also
served as vice president of strategy and planning for storage at
Sun Microsystems. He
developed disk and
tape systems for mainframe
attachment at IBM and
systems for attachment to open systems and proprietary computer platforms at
and tape and disk systems for both open systems and mainframes at two start-up
profile, Storage People
Sun and Microsoft Promise OS Coexistence
CLARA, Calif - October 17, 2006 - Sun Microsystems Inc. today revealed
details of its virtualization strategy.
Next year Sun says it will
deliver an update to Solaris 10 which will enable servers to run concurrent
Solaris 10, Linux and Microsoft Windows OSes as "guests" on a Solaris
10 OS-based Virtual Machine.
On the same theme
Microsoft today promised to make its
format software freely available to all.
If successful - OS
virtualization can enable users to reduce the number of servers they own - by
dynamically allocating applications to the level of processor power which
suits the business needs at that point in time.
Qimonda 's Memory Honored by Sun
Clara, CA - October 17, 2006 - Qimonda AG was named Best-in-Class
Supplier in Sun Microsystems' 2006 Supplier Awards program.
"Each year Sun Microsystems recognizes the 'best of the best'
suppliers for their contributions to outstanding product quality and customer
value," said Eugene McCabe, executive vice president of Worldwide
Operations at Sun. "Qimonda helped Sun exceed our customers' expectations,
and we congratulate them on their achievement." ...Qimonda profile,
Sun Honors BakBone Software
Vegas, Sun Forum - October 11, 2006 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today
announced it has named BakBone Software, Inc. its Storage Partner of the
"With over a decade of support for the Solaris OS, a
shared footprint in 550 of the Fortune 1000... we are honored and pleased to
receive this award," said Jim Johnson, BakBone's president and CEO.
Dot Hill Celebrates Shipment of 100,000 Sun StorageTek 3000s
Calif. - October 3, 2006 - Dot Hill Systems Corp. today announced a
major milestone in its relationship with Sun Microsystems with the
shipment of the 100,000th unit of the Sun StorageTek 3000 family of workgroup
The milestone is based on gross units shipped. All
total, the 100,000 units equate to approximately 103 petabytes of storage
capacity. The Sun StorageTek 3000 is based on Dot Hill's SANnet II. ...Dot Hill profile,
SPARC Product Directory,
New Players Invited to the SPARC Game
CLARA, Calif. - October 2, 2006 - Sun Microsystems Inc. today announced
the creation of an independent OpenSPARC Community Advisory Board.
board is chartered with setting the direction for OpenSPARC, a community that
fosters the creation of tools and derivative chip designs based on Sun's
UltraSPARC T1 processor. The community now includes a new GNU/Linux
distribution, Gentoo Linux, which is
supporting UltraSPARC T1 in the latest release, and the first published
derivative of the chip design from Simply RISC.
"To grow we can't just rely on upgrading our installed base, we
have to go after new customers, and that's what open source helps us do,"
said John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's systems group.
comments:- it sounds like such a good idea you may ask why hasn't Sun
done it before?
The answer is Sun did. But most of the oems which
picked up the SPARC technology ball in the first decade of SPARC got
eased out of the
The first commercially available SPARC servers were
shipped in 1987.
In 1989 Sun, with other partners set up
as the industry body to disseminate technical information about SPARC, and
facilitate the licensing of technology and trademarks.
In 1991 - I set up my company
ACSL as an
publisher to research and write about the SPARC market - and in 1992 published
the first edition of what is now called the
SPARC Product Directory.
The work of my company made it easier for hundreds of SPARC oems to know about
each others' products, and I was privileged to talk to them all -
sometimes before they even made their first approaches to Sun. It was a great
party and in many articles
during the late 1990s I chronicled how it all got broken up (due to more
strains than just the dotcom collapse.)
Looking ahead the market
opportunities for SPARC and Solaris servers are still very significant. But
Sun has not had the vision or resources to make things happen as fast as they
should in recent years while they have literally been fighting for survival. New
partners will help accelerate the process of technology development,
integration and adoption.
That was Then and This is Now: SPARC International and OpenSPARC.net,
the Marketing Dots in OpenSPARC
SPARC Product Directory Publisher Marks 15th Anniversary
Editor:- October 2, 2006
- this month is the 15th anniversary of founding ACSL - publisher of the
SPARC Product Directory and STORAGEsearch.com
The storage market,
which will generate over $160 billion revenue in 2006, is the most important
segment in the computer industry and this is an exciting time to be covering
storage as fundamental changes are taking place in the way that enterprises
architect their IT infrastructure.
Gone are the days when the
processor or the operating system were the primary factors which dictated how
everything fitted together. In the future - the levers and gateposts which
enable or inhibit fast corporate change will be dictated by how well the
storage systems support the data needs of the enterprise.
Just as the
internet gave rise to new types of companies which didn't exist before, the new
age of content will generate huge markets where the success or failure of the
enterprise will be determined by the strength or weakness of its underlying
Looking back at the start of my publishing career:-
one of the frustrations of publishing a computer market directory in the early
1990s was the fact that new editions were obsolete on the day they were printed.
My data collection methodology was to research and update data every day. Soon
after it became acceptable to make money on the web - we made plans to switch to
a web format - which we did in 1996. Although much has changed on the web in the
past decade - one factor has remained unchanged:- people migrate quickly to
the sources which give them the best information. Content providers (like us)
and content finders (like Google) need
each other (even though we compete in the same advertising market) and although
search algorithms have improved, I think human editors can still do a better
job of collecting together lists of all the important companies in a vertical
has been leading the way to the new storage frontier for 8 years, and before
that our SPARC Product
Directory helped to shape and inform the needs of the people building the
dotcom market. It's been great fun working on these in the past 15 years - and I
look forward to reporting on the exciting developments still to come. ...ACSL profile
SPARC news on this page|
Revisiting One of SPARC's Old Flames
Veteran Joins ProStor Systems
Sun and Microsoft Promise OS Coexistence
and Microsoft Promise OS Coexistence
Qimonda 's Memory Honored by Sun
Honors BakBone Software
Dot Hill Celebrates Shipment of 100,000 Sun
New Players Invited to the SPARC Game
Product Directory Publisher Marks 15th Anniversary
earlier news -
Terrorbyte loved sitting around|
the campfire, discussing the good old days
|Can You Trust Your Flash
|Editor:- I've noticed is that
the published specs of
flash SSDs change
a lot -from the time a product they are first announced, then when they're
being sampled, and later again when they are in volume production. |
the headline numbers get better, sometimes they get worse. There are many good
reasons for this.
The product which you carefully qualified may
not be identical to the one that's going into your production line for a
variety of reasons... ...read the article
|Are MLC SSDs Safe
in Enterprise Apps?|
| This is a follow up
article to the popular
SSD Myths and
Legends which, a year earlier demolished the myth that flash memory
wear-out (a comfort blanket beloved by many
RAM SSD makers)
precluded the use of flash in heavy duty datacenters.|
article looks at the risks posed by MLC Nand Flash SSDs which have recently
hatched from their breeeding ground as chip modules in cellphones and morphed
hard disk form
|| It starts down a familiar
lane but an unexpected technology twist takes you to a startling new world