Sun launch targets low-end server market

Sun Microsystems to unveil low-cost blade servers and virtualisation software in a bid to attract price-concious users

Sun Microsystems will today (10 February) announce a range of hardware and software products aimed at the low-end server market.

The products include a line of blade servers based on a mix of Intel Corp.'s chips and Sun's own UltraSPARC processors. The company will also unveil blade server virtualisation software, a 12-processor mid-range system and processor upgrades for its high-end servers.

The company is also set to cut prices on some high-end systems by 35% and add new services aimed at helping users implement Sun's new N1 data centre resource-optimisation technologies.

Andy Ingram, a marketing vice president at Sun, said the product launch is designed to show that the company can deliver on the N1 vision with technology that reduces costs, complexity and the time it takes to get a return on investment.

The Sun Fire B1600 Blade Platform technology will lead Sun's charge at the low end. Although Sun is behind its top rivals in shipping blade servers, the B1600 devices offer enough differentiation to attract attention from users, said James Garden, an analyst at Technology Business Research.

Sun is the first vendor to let users put blade devices based on different processors in the same chassis, Garden said. The new servers also are the first hardware offered by Sun with support for N1 virtualisation software that's designed to let IT managers quickly configure blade server farms.

Later this year, Sun said it would add specialised blade servers for IT security and content load-balancing uses.

Sun is also boosting the performance of its high-end Sun Fire 12K and 15K servers by adding a 1.2-GHz UltraSPARC III chip to the systems. In addition, the company is dropping prices on some high-end configurations.

N1 Strategy Starts to Take Shape

The virtualisation software for Sun's new blade servers is only the first in a series of products and services that the company plans to roll out this year as part of its N1 data centre resource management strategy, according to Yael Zheng, a director in Sun's N1 business group.

In the second half of the year, Sun will release an enterprise version of the virtualisation software that will let IT managers pool and allocate various computing resources, Zheng said. Like the blade server release, the enterprise edition will be based on technology Sun bought in November as part of its acquisition of Terraspring.

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