Part-timer Bechtolsheim Still a Big-Time Influence in Sun's Product Development

Sun on April 14 officially launched its next-generation set of Intel-based servers, storage packages and networking components in a widespread product refresh. Virtually all the new products feature some sort of solid-state processor or storage component, and Bechtolsheim has been supervising this changeover.

MENLO PARK, Calif.-Sun Microsystems, like all the major data systems providers, is moving swiftly into the realm of solid-state components, and co-founder/chief architect Andy Bechtolsheim-who isn't working at the company full time anymore-is helping lead the way.
Sun on April 14 officially launched its next-generation set of Intel-based servers, storage packages and networking components in a widespread product refresh. Virtually all the new products feature some sort of solid-state processor or storage component, and Bechtolsheim has been supervising this changeover.

Bechtolsheim has remained the chief architect of the product upgrade despite the fact that he is also working in as chairman of a cloud computing startup, Arista Networks.
Not withstanding all the trials and tribulations of starting a new company, Bechtolsheim has remained with Sun to continue to create several new product architectures, including X64 servers and storage servers, and is continuing to work on key strategic initiatives, such as high-performance computing.
His latest contributions at Sun are the design of the new Open Network Systems Network Express and storage modules, some of which have capacities of up to 24GB of memory in a form factor only a bit larger than a pack of gum.
"You bet, Andy did the design for these," Sun Vice President of Systems John Fowler said April 13 at a press briefing here on the Sun campus, holding up one of the small storage modules sporting several small black NAND flash chips that will be used in several of the new products.
"These things can be used in a lot of different places. They have 24GB of memory, and that goes a long way. Amazing how small these things are and how much they can do."
Bechtolsheim also led the design team for the new servers powered by Intel's new Xeon 5500 series quad-core processors, which feature on-board networking technology and integrated NAND flash memory, a Solaris operating system optimized for the new Intel chip architecture, greater virtualization capabilities, and unified management.
"I am very proud of all the accomplishments we have achieved as a systems team, including the Sun Fire X4000 family of X64 servers, the Sun Constellation System, the Sun Fire storage servers and flash storage, and Sun Datacenter Switch 3x24, and I look forward to many more over the coming years," Bechtolsheim said when he joined Arista Networks in October 2008.
Sun will need this influx of NAND flash-which enables data to be "read" up to 100 times faster than spinning disks and is better-suited for high-transaction-type applications-in its storage products to compete with EMC, Dell EqualLogic, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NetApp and smaller companies, such as Pillar Data Systems, Rackable, Compellent, Xiotech and SpectraLogic.
Arista Networks has about 50 employees and is also based in Menlo Park, not far from one of the two main Sun campuses. It makes 10GB Ethernet switches for data centers that the company claims are priced at one-tenth the cost of those made by its leading competitor, the world's largest networking infrastructure provider, Cisco Systems.
Bechtolsheim also worked at Cisco Systems for seven years in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...