Sun Set To Illuminate Its Clustering Strategy

Sun Microsystems Inc. is gearing up to unveil software and services to further complement the hardware platform behind its Net Effect vision.

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Sun Microsystems Inc. is gearing up to unveil software and services to further complement the hardware platform behind its Net Effect vision. Sun Chief Operating Officer Ed Zander announced the companys Net Effect strategy in September and at the same time announced a range of new hardware based on the companys UltraSPARC processor.

At Suns Service Management Launch this week at its Santa Clara, Calif., campus, Zander will announce technological advancements in the companys server clustering and management software. Specifically, he will introduce Sun Cluster Version 3.0, which uses and extends the high availability and scalability of the Solaris operating environment, according to sources.

Sun Cluster 3.0 promises to provide mainframe-class reliability, availability and scalability for e-commerce, enterprise resource planning, data warehousing, and other mission-critical applications and services, sources said. It currently scales up to 256 processors in a cluster, which is enough to handle growing numbers of simultaneous users and access to large databases. Users can also add or remove nodes while online and mix and match servers to meet their needs.

Zander will also introduce Sun Management Center Version 3.0, which offers a single point of management for all Sun servers, desktops, storage systems, the Solaris operating environment, applications and data center services, sources said.

The software will be generally available for customers within the next few weeks.

Suns goal, sources say, is to eliminate the complexity around clustering. One of its forthcoming innovations will be the ability to install an application once and then run it anywhere on the cluster, across any combination of nodes, without bringing down the system.

Those sources say Sun is responding to customer frustration and annoyance at the length of time needed to load and manage the complex software required for effective scalability and maximum uptime.

While this weeks announcement will essentially cover the software side of the Net Effect platform, Zander plans to announce additional initiatives extending a range of services to the product area. These will include consulting and technical assistance, from the start of the process all the way through to implementation.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass., said Unix vendors have long been trying to create a single-system environment that is based on linking a number of Unix systems.

"Suns previous clustering systems have not done this, and they have been promising this for some time," Kusnetzky said. "If they can achieve this single-system view with [this] announcement, it will be of enormous benefit to them, as it will lower the cost of computing by reducing the cost of system management. Even a little improvement in this regard will make Sun dramatically successful."