Sun Looks to Strengthen
Systems Under One Command"> As 2007 winds down, Sun Microsystems is no longer in the flux it was just a year ago. Since the summer, the Santa Clara, Calif., company has produced a string of significant hardware announcements, including its first systems built using Intels quad-core Xeon processors and new servers and blades built around its UltraSPARC T2 or Niagara 2 processor. In addition, Sun recently inked a new OEM agreement with Microsoft and reorganized its servers and storage businesses into one division. eWEEK Staff Writer Scott Ferguson spoke with John Fowler, a Sun executive vice president who will lead the new division, about what the company has in store and how its recent move will affect its core businesses. How does Niagara 2 fit into Suns overall portfolio and what improvements does it offer to the companys servers and blade systems?The second class of people that will be interested in it are people implementing virtualization because we include virtualization at the system level at no extra change, and then we have virtualization built into Solaris [operating system] at no extra change. The people buying these systems do not have to get involved in third-party products or other things in order to implement a virtualized environment. So those are the two things that are going to attract people to uspower efficiency and virtualization. Where will these Niagara-based system compete and will they compete with x86-based system or with high-end hardware like IBMs servers that use the Power processor? It really comes into the volume side of the portfolio. So there are people that are going to be buying systems that are $10,000 and up and that is in the enterprise class area in the volume. The most obvious direct competition is the Intel and AMD [Advanced Micro Devices] platforms and against those there will be basic measures of performance benchmarks and efficiency benchmarks where these [Suns systems] are just better across a range of workloads like Web applications processing, database and so on. Those would be the more classic thing that people would look to compare platforms, you know AMD and Intel, and customers would choose those instead of instead of big [IBM] Power 5 and Power 6 systems. People have a wide range of applications, like big-scale business applications and Internet infrastructure, and they have technical computing needs, so what we are doing in our product line is making sure that we have leading-edge products across a range of price points and technical capabilities throughout the whole spectrum. This is part of a portfolio play and the systems fit into the volume category, but it is very complementary to what we are doing at the high-end and other parts of the portfolio. Click here to read more about Suns new virtualization platform. Sun recently announced that it would combine its server and storage division into one business. Can you take us through the companys thinking on that decision? The way people look at their infrastructure varies, but fundamentally people look at the computing infrastructure today as the servers themselves, the networking elements that interconnect the servers with each other, as well as the storage products. So the concept behind putting this all in one group is to have a single, cohesive engineering team. Part of that is driven by some of the technology changes that are happening in the background and on how you actually interconnect storage and server and other stuff. Page 2: Sun Looks to Strengthen Systems Under One Command
What Niagara 2 does is offer a very dramatic improvement in performance over Niagara 1. Across a wide range of applications, it is at least 2X [more powerful] and there are applications where it is six or eight times as fast as the Niagara 1. It dramatically increases the range of applications people can use with it. Fundamentally, people will use it for business [types] of applications, in the Web tier and database applications. The people who will be interested in it are going to be people who are interested in efficiencythat is, how much work can they get done within a given unit of power because on power performance basis these systems will be by far the most capable systems in the industry, and that is because of the design of the systems themselves. So that is going to be one area of interest, specifically customers that are concerned about what their power bill looks like for a given set of applications.