Sun Radically Shifts The Economics Of Availability

Published: Fri 23 Mar 2001 02:33 PM
Sun Radically Shifts The Economics Of Availability With New Midframe Servers
New UltraSPARCTM III Technology-Based Sun FireTM Servers, Plus Software and Services, Deliver Mainframe-Class Capabilities at Midrange Prices
SYDNEY - AUSTRALIA - March 22, 2001 - In one of the largest technology unveilings in its history, Sun Microsystems, Inc., answers the "availability is everything" call by introducing the highly-anticipated Sun Fire servers.
The new systems redefine the profile of traditional midrange servers and challenge the conventional economics of uptime with prices that start below AUD$165,000 (ex. GST). With this new arsenal of systems, Sun increases the competitive pressure on HP, IBM and Compaq and is poised to widen its existing marketshare gap and capture more of the US$60 billion global server market.
Called "Midframe" servers because they incorporate features from the traditional mainframe - long known for robust features that made it highly reliable, but extremely expensive - the four new systems, available now, rewrite the rules for this class of system.
"We are in effect opening up a new segment in the market. We are offering mainframe punch with a midframe price tag. This is a serious challenge to IBM and HP," said Jim Hassell, Managing Director Sun Microsystems Australasia.
Extending Sun's current family of industry-leading systems, the new Sun Fire servers are designed to deliver unprecedented levels of system availability, real-world application performance, flexibility and investment protection in a server line. The new servers are the cornerstone of Sun's systems, software and new availability environment that will help customers take advantage of the economic benefits of the worldwide build out of the Internet infrastructure.
The foundation for these Midframe systems is breakthrough technology and a next-generation, balanced system design that delivers mainframe-class functionality. Design innovations such as redundant component interconnection technology, the ability to dynamically split one system into multiple systems, duplicate hardware components, and "on-the-fly" processor upgrades - once unheard of in this class of system - are standard features. At their core are the award-winning UltraSPARC III processor, Sun's third-generation 64-bit chip, and industry-leading Solaris 8 Operating Environment.
"This is not future tense, we can offer this product here and now. Demand is huge in Australia - we have already pre-sold four servers. Our customers have been asking us to harness the benefits of the E10,000 high-end servers in a midframe package - with Sun Fire we do just this," said John Fennell, National Product Sales Manager, Australasia.
Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems chairman and CEO said, "After a year in which IBM and HP threw everything they could at us, including old products with new names and new products with "super" names, we still took marketshare away from them. This time we're tearing into what those re-branded mainframe makers thought was their safe haven - continuous up time, round-the-clock availability, and investment protection - and bringing it to customers who understand the value of a dollar."
The Difference is Uptime
The Sun Fire servers include several innovations - new to this class of system - designed to deliver a balanced array of performance measures tuned to the needs of network computing along with superior levels of availability.
"Quite simply these systems from the middle of Sun's product range are superior to the high-end offerings from IBM and HP. Neither IBM or HP can touch the Sun Fire servers in terms of system availability and manageability features, ISV enthusiasm, and system performance," said Robert Becker, Product Sales Manager Enterprise Servers, Australasia.
At the core of the servers' unprecedented availability levels is the Sun Fireplane interconnection or backplane. This fully-redundant backplane - a design "first" for this class of system - enables fault-isolated partitioning and dynamic partitioning in a full production environment. This ability to split the computer into separate domains gives customers the ability to design midrange systems with unprecedented levels of security, fault tolerance, uptime and flexibility in accommodating system growth or varying service demands.
Its cable-free design gives the Sun Fireplane interconnect greater bandwidth for more predictable performance and lower latency, which results in higher application performance. At 9.6 GB/sec sustained performance, the Sun Fireplane interconnect offers nearly five times the throughput of IBM's P680 system.
The Sun Fire systems are the only servers in this new class to offer online upgradability, which further contributes to maximum uptime. "Hot" CPU upgrades, I/O and memory upgrades, and the ability to modify core components of the Solaris Operating Environment will create shorter maintenance windows, which lead to higher uptime and service levels. In addition, the systems allow for concurrent maintenance, enabling repairs while the system - and applications - are up and running. This is the equivalent of a car that can have its oil changed and engine tuned while running down the freeway at high speed.
As a complement to the redundant interconnect, all hardware components - from data and memory paths, system controller and power, to cooling and even the clock - are fully redundant, in effect delivering systems with no single point of hardware failure. Comparatively, if something as simple as the clock fails in a million-dollar HP Superdome or an IBM P680, the system dies.
The Sun servers also feature end-to-end ECC (error checking correction code) for parity checking on data, address and external cache.
The Sun Fire servers ship with Sun Management Centre software, a rich, powerful and efficient web-based management tool that provides a central point for managing and monitoring all aspects of Sun servers. In addition to increasing efficiency, Sun Management Centre software assists the customer by providing sophisticated system analysis, instrumentation and configuration management.
The Application Performance Leadership Champion of the Real World
A balanced system design and advances within the UltraSPARC III processor are central to the systems' outstanding and predictable performance. For example, the memory controller, usually a separate chip, is now integrated into the CPU, making the system inherently faster and more reliable. In addition, separate address and data paths on the interconnect dedicate bandwidth to data transfers, vastly speeding internal data handling, resulting in higher system performance.
The results of such advances are "industry bests" for real world business, technical and high performance computing applications, including: a new world-record benchmark for Oracle Applications; a new industry record for PeopleSoft Financials; industry-leading JavaTM application performance on the SPECjbb 2000 benchmark.
Unparalleled Investment Protection
Like the successful Sun Enterprise mid-range servers, all of the Sun Fire systems share a common system architecture and have interchangeable components - from system boards to power supplies - a design innovation still unmatched in the industry. This common component approach gives customers the ability to redistribute capacity across different servers for flexible and efficient utilisation of resources, while providing unparalleled investment protection.
Sun extends this investment protection even further by allowing customers to upgrade from an 8-way Sun Fire 3800, for example, by simply moving all major components to a larger Sun Fire chassis.
Sun also offers a flexible array of acquisition options, including a "capacity on demand" purchase option and an aggressive trade-in and upgrade program. The systems' modular design assists customers as they upgrade to newer, higher-performance processing, I/O, networking and storage options. Further, the new Sun Fire servers provide support for mixed-speed CPUs, something HP's Superdome or IBM's P680 cannot.
Unlike migration migraines faced by users signing up to transition to unproven Merced, McKinley or Monterey technologies, Sun continues to protect the investment of its installed base, not only maintaining the 100 percent binary compatibility for Solaris Operating Environment-based applications, but backing this up by offering an application guarantee with the Solaris 8 Operating Environment.
All Sun servers come standard with the Solaris Operating Environment. The systems are shipping today.
About Sun Microsystems, Inc. Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision -- The Network Is The ComputerTM -- has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that power the Internet and allow companies worldwide to take their businesses to the nth. With USD$19.2 billion in annual revenues, Sun can be found in more than 170 countries and on the World Wide Web at
© 2001 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved. Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, Sun Fire, Sun Fireplane, Solaris, Sun Enterprise, Java and The Network is the Computer are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All SPARC trademarks are used under licenses and are trademarks or registered trademarks of SPARC International, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Products bearing SPARC trademarks are based upon an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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