Sun Pulls More OEMs into Solaris x86 Market

As the company pushes to expand in the low-end, industry-standard server market, it announces that the products of 15 more systems and embedded-device makers will run the Solaris operating system tuned for the x86 environment.

Sun Microsystems is continuing to partner with OEMs worldwide as it pushes to grow its presence in the low-end, industry-standard server market.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company announced Thursday that it has signed up 15 more systems and embedded-device makers whose products—based on processors from Intel Corp. or Advanced Micro Devices Inc.—will run the Solaris operating system tuned for the x86 environment.

The new additions brings to 20 the number of OEMs—who make everything from servers and workstations to notebooks, supercomputers and telecommunications equipment—that have agreed to run the operating system on their products, said Jack OBrien, marketing manager for x86 at Sun Microsystems Inc.

"The momentum is moving forward, and weve got a very healthy pipeline," OBrien said.

Some of the new OEMs include ASA Computers Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif.; Electronic Business Solutions Inc., of North Billerica, Mass.; Flight System Consulting Inc., of Tokyo; and Pinnacle Data Systems Inc., of Columbus, Ohio.

Sun has been selling Intel-based servers for several years but is counting on its recent partnership with AMD—and its 64-bit Opteron processor—to give the company some traction in the low-end x86 space.

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Sun already has released one Opteron-based system, the Sun Fire V20z, and is promising more over the next year, including one- and two-way workstations, blade servers and systems with four to eight processors, said John Fowler, who this week was named Suns executive vice president for network systems. Fowler had been chief technology officer for the companys software group.

"We aim to be a high-volume supplier of AMD systems running Solaris, and running [Microsoft Corp.s] Windows and Linux, if people want that," Fowler said in an interview with eWEEK. "Were going to dramatically broaden the product line."

Suns partnership with AMD includes not only selling Opteron-based systems but also working with AMD engineers on development of the chip, such as growing its scalability to eight-way systems and beyond.

In February, Sun also announced the acquisition of Kealia Inc., a startup that specializes in designing Opteron-based servers.

Fowler said Sun will leverage its operating system and software stack—including Java, N1 Grid and Solaris x86—to differentiate its Opteron systems from those of competitors, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM. Sun also is hoping that the Opteron systems provide a good balance for its higher-end SPARC/Solaris systems.

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Fowler said he expects Opteron to continue gaining strength in the industry. "AMD, for the same price, outperforms Intel processors by a wide margin," he said. "When Opteron was new, people werent used to it. But its been around for a while now. Early adopters … have been working with this for a while now."

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