Backwards-compatible to Solaris 8, Sun Cluster 3.0 will offer features such as improved ease of management, enhanced dynamic configuration, and support for Oracle9i RAC (Real Application Clusters), according to Jim Sangster, the group manager for Sun's cluster product line.
Clustered servers that can act as single or multiple system images - which are commonplace in scientific and academic computer networks - are becoming popular in the enterprise for their ability to both reduce downtime and afford necessary planned downtime.
Sun has worked to simplify the management of Sun Cluster 3.0 while fine-tuning the software to perform optimally with popular business applications such as Oracle and SAP. It is also the first version of the product to use Sun's RSM (remote shared memory technology).
"Sun Cluster 3.0 is the release that is ready with our enhanced communications and interconnect technology to take the most advantage of a RAC deployment," said Sangster, who added that RSM "takes advantage of very high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnects which tie the cluster together."
With the aid of a technique called PSM (Prioritised Service Management), users of Sun Cluster 3.0 can better manage and allocate compute resources within a cluster being used by more than one department or running more than one critical application, Sangster said.
Improved dynamic configuration technology in Sun Cluster 3.0 now allows users to make a wider range of system modifications, such as processor and application partitioning, remotely from any secure browser. Components such as processors and memory can also be replaced on the fly, Sangster said.
The hot-swap tools within Sun Cluster 3.0 work for both Sun's mid-range 3800 and 6800 Sun Fire servers as well as the company's high-end Sun Fire 12000 and 15000.
Capable of supporting eight clustered server nodes of 106 processors each, Sun Cluster 3.0 offers a rolling upgrade feature that lets users upgrade from earlier versions of Sun Cluster in an incremental fashion without having to bring the cluster down.
In what is still a fledgling market for enterprise server clusters, Sun competes with vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard.