Sun Looks to Expand Service Offerings

A new inventory management feature offers IT managers a better means of tracking a data center's assets.

Sun Microsystems expects its latest service feature to be the answer for IT managers lost in their own data center.

Dubbed Inventory Channel, the latest offering of Sun Connection Services, the Santa Clara, Calif., companys line of networked service offerings, is designed to inventory a data centers assets—physical and virtual—from a single console.

The inventory management tool, a free piece of SOA (service-oriented architecture) that Suns customers can download through a secure Web portal, will work with a range of hypervisors, including VMwares products and virtualization technology built around the open-source Xen hypervisor. It is compatible with Suns own Solaris operating system, Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hats Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Besides inventory management, the new feature also allows Sun to update customers on various patches, software upgrades and other hardware recommendations, said Steve Wilson, a vice president of Suns Connection services. Customers can also use the management tool to order new hardware, software or check on service contracts with Sun.

In the past two years, Sun has looked to expand its data center services offerings to its customers. However, unlike such massive services arms as IBMs Global Services unit and Hewlett-Packards HP Services group, Sun is looking to focus on its core experience with data centers and infrastructure.

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The inventory manager is designed to work in what Wilson called the "heterogeneous" data center, which contains a mixture of Suns own UltraSPARC-based systems as well as x86 servers the company builds using a combination of Intel and Advanced Micro Devices processors.

The management tool also has the ability to catalog non-Sun data center assets. For example, it will take note of a Dell server that is running a Linux operating system and catalog that system along with all the others. Although the current tool does not support Microsoft Windows, Wilson said Sun will include support for Windows in a later release.

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Wilson said Sun customers have been asking the company for better, easier ways to keep track of both physical and virtual assets in data centers that continue to grow at a persistent pace.

"Customers are asking us for better ways to track assets," Wilson said. "In a lot of ways, bar codes and clipboards dont cut it, especially when its easier to move assets from place to place in a data center."

The Inventory Channel management tool is available to download starting June 11.

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