Telecom Server Braves Harsh Conditions

Sun's 12-processor Netra 1280 is awarded NEBS Level 3 Certification.

Sun Microsytems Inc. has rolled out the latest in its line of Netra servers for the telecommunications industry, the Netra 1280, which features up to 12 900MHz UltraSPARC III chips and up to 96GB of memory.

The Netra 1280, unveiled late last month, is the only 12-processor server that has received NEBS (Network Equipment Building Standard) Level 3 certification. This is a key standard for telecommunications servers that often are housed in physically harsh environments rather than in climate-controlled data centers, according to officials with Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif. Telecommunications servers many times are stored in small buildings in isolated areas where they have to stand up to such factors as heat, humidity and corrosion and may even be exposed to such natural dangers as floods and earthquakes.

For companies such as Lucent Technologies Inc., having a sturdy, NEBS-certified server such as the Netra 1280 is important, according to Kurt Steinert, a spokesman for the Whippany, N.J., companys Mobility Solutions unit. "The requirements for mobile operators are pretty stringent as compared to enterprise customers," Steinert said.

Lucent uses Netra 1280 servers as platforms for its applications. The company will later sell the servers with the applications to its customers. One such application is an intelligent networking product; the other is a third-generation wireless product that enables users to track subscriber services, Steinert said.

"Were using [the servers] now," Steinert said. "Theyve arrived, and we have them in our labs and are doing development on them."

The Netra 1280 runs Solaris and features the Sun ONE software stack. It includes lights-out management capabilities to enable remote management and monitoring of the servers and dynamic reconfiguration features.

The server is equipped with hot-swappable chip and memory boards, enabling users to make upgrades without having to bring the system down, Sun officials said.

Sun officials said a key advantage to the Netra 1280 is its size. Many competing telecommunications servers are bigger—at least 28 inches deep—and need a proprietary chassis, officials said. At a 12U (21-inch) height and a depth of 22 inches, the system can fit in most industry-standard racks, they said.

The Netra 1280 is available immediately. A server with four 900MHz UltraSPARC III chips and 8GB of memory is priced starting at $89,995.

The release of the 1280 came just weeks after Sun launched a 12-processor Unix server for the data center, the Sun Fire V1280. That server also features the companys 900MHz UltraSPARC III chip. Like the 1280, the Sun Fire V1280 comes in four- to 12-processor configurations.

Sun has been pushing to improve its Netra offerings. In November, the company unveiled its CompactPCI telecom blade servers, which can scale up to 16 processor blades per shelf and 48 processor blades per rack. Sun also upgraded its Netra HA, or high-availability, Suite Foundation Services to enable users to build platforms with no single point of failure. The suite supports soft partitioning, enhanced IP service and cluster management.