Sun and Fujitsu are offering improved performance and virtualization features for their UltraSPARC-based servers through the adoption of new processors and LDoms virtualization software. The rollout comes at a time when uncertainty surrounds the Unix space, with Oracle buying Sun and delays in Intel's next-generation Itanium chip. At the same time, IBM is paving the way for its upcoming Power7 platform.
Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu are rolling out enhanced
UltraSPARC-based servers into a Unix market that could see continued
shifting over the coming months.
Officials with Sun and Fujitsu July 21 boasted improved performance
and virtualization capabilities in the systems, thanks to the addition
of the 1.6GHz UltraSPARC T2 and T2 Plus processors and the latest
release of Sun's LDoms (Logical Domains) virtualization software, all
of which are supported by Sun's Solaris 10 operating system.
The enhancements enable enterprises to grow the performance and
efficiencies of their data centers without having to increase their
expenses, according to John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's
"We've got massive density already built in," Fowler said in a
statement. "It's a great choice for both consolidation and the heavy
lifting required by enterprise applications."
The announcement comes at an interesting time for the Unix
community. Oracle's expected $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun-Sun
shareholders approved the transaction
16-brings into question the future of Sun's Unix-based hardware
portfolio, and Intel is still experiencing delays in releasing the
next-generation "Tukwila" Itanium chip
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The announcement from Sun and Fujitsu also came the same day IBM began paving the way to its upcoming Power7 processor
with the unveiling of an upgrade path from Power6, as well as a new
virtualization management tool, called Systems Director VMControl.
Power7-based IBM servers are expected to begin shipping in the first
half of 2010.
"Unix systems customers currently face unprecedented uncertainties,"
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said in a report issued
July 22. "Some of those are competitive, with most of the pressure
coming from below in the form of increasingly able x86/64-based
solutions. New-generation processors designed to support particularly
robust virtualization, such as Intel's Xeon 5500 (Nehalem) chips, are
likely to ratchet-up the pressure even higher."
However, much of the uncertainly is coming from within the Unix space, King said.
"On the RISC side of the market, Oracle's brewing acquisition of Sun
Microsystems has many in the industry questioning the company's plans
for or dedication to Sun's UltraSPARC technologies," King wrote. "Even
if Oracle supports Sun's traditional platforms and solutions and
customers (as CEO Larry Ellison insists it will), many people doubt
Oracle's ability to effectively run, let alone turn around, Sun's
troubled hardware business."
Given all that, it looks as though IBM is in the best position among
Unix vendors, he said, noting that IBM could make big gains in the Unix
space by taking advantage of issues around rivals such as HP and Sun.
And while x86-based systems continue to grow as an overall percentage
of the global server market, Unix-based systems still accounted for 33
percent-about $3.3 billion-of the overall server revenue in the first
quarter of 2009, according to research firm IDC. That was up from 30.2
percent the first quarter of 2008.
Despite the questions surrounding the future of Sun hardware,
Fujitsu officials said they are seeing continued adoption of the
UltraSPARC-based servers across a wide range of companies, from smaller
startups to larger enterprises.
"With the enhancements we're announcing ... we will be able to offer
customers even greater performance and virtualization capabilities,"
Noriyuki Toyoki, corporate vice president at Fujitsu, said in a
Through the combination of LDoms 1.2 and Solaris, businesses get
built-in configuration tools for a more streamlined setup of LDoms, as
well as CPU power management through the automatic powering off of
processing cores not in use.
Other capabilities include greater support of jumbo frames, which
let businesses send more data across the network at one time, dynamic
migration of domains, built-in recovery through automatic LDoms backup,
and a physical-to-virtual migration tool for businesses looking to move
from existing legacy SPARC/Solaris systems to the newer CMT (chip