Having introduced a high-end server at the end of September, Sun Microsystems moved to more firmly nail down the low end of its product line with a Control Station for server appliances.
The Sun Cobalt server appliances unit unveiled the $4,999 Control Station capable of managing hundreds of Cobalt Web servers, caching servers, load balancers and other appliances at a time. "As you move toward the edge of the Internet, data center expertise becomes more limited," noted Peder Ulander, director of marketing. The Control Station is preloaded with software to make managing appliances that intersect with the Internet easier, he said.
ISPs and colocation facilities frequently add or subtract racks of thin-mount servers to scale their operations to demand. If they are Cobalt thin servers, such as those in the RaQ appliance line, control over fluctuating numbers is easier, added Marc Tamres, product line manager.
Through the Control Station, a systems administrator may upgrade an existing appliance with a new copy of Linux, add recently issued patches to the existing servers or deploy utilities and application upgrades across a large number of servers.
Administrators can also monitor large groups of servers for potential failures, receiving alerts from the Control Station if a server shows signs of suffering a pending equipment breakdown, Ulander said.
Sun purchased Cobalt Networks in December of last year for about $2 billion. It builds the seven-square-inch, Linux-based Cobalt Qube, as well as rack-mount RaQ servers, which sell for as little $999. Average selling price is $1,500, said Vivek Mehra, general manager of the Cobalt division of Sun.
Installation of a Cobalt server requires a few simple steps for set-up, including its links to the network and Internet TCP/IP address. "Once you install it, you can forget it," Mehra said, or manage it remotely as part of a battery of servers.
"Were focused on aggregated management services" through the appliance, Tamres said. It comes with a software development kit for extensions to its management functions. A systems administrator may leverage those functions by adding Perl and other script-based code, making the administrator "an in-house developer."
The Control Station was under development by Cobalt before its acquisition by Sun. Adding it to Suns product line extends Suns reach from large back-end Unix servers "all the way to the edge" of an enterprises network, Ulander said.