Sun's Schwartz: High-Performance Computing Will Be Pervasive

Sun will focus more of its efforts on storage as data continues to pile up.

To Jonathan Schwartz, the rapidly growing data loads being generated within enterprises mean that high-performance computing will be coming to every industry sector sooner or later. That, in turn, means that many of the businesses in these industries will be turning to Sun Microsystems for help with their IT infrastructures.

Schwartz, Sun's president and CEO, said that thanks to strategy changes Sun has made over the past few years, the Santa Clara, Calif., company is well-positioned to meet those demands.

Speaking to a group of industry and Wall Street analysts Sept. 5 at the company's New York offices, Schwartz also said that the company is going to focus more of its research and development efforts on storage-mostly for the SMB market-"because that's what our customers are telling us they want."

During his 45-minute-long remarks, Schwartz touched on a range of topics-everything from the overall stability of the IT market to why the company changed its NASDAQ stock symbol from SUNW to JAVA last month.

"If you look at the number of challenges we've had to face, probably the single most important albatross that we've kind of put away is the brand of the company," Schwartz said. "And that was because the financial reputation of the company was not so hot, technology reputation was not so hot and we weren't delivering the kind of results that shareholders and big investors want.

"From my vantage point, we've put that to bed. We're now at a point where now were talking about, how fast can we grow, not are you going to be around? That's a huge shift for us."


Click here to read more about Suns NASDAQ stock symbol change.

For six years-from 2001 to 2006-Sun had either lost money or barely broken even, as sales of its expensive high-end workstations slipped in favor of less-expensive, off-the-shelf-type desktop computers made by IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and others. During that period, Sun's stock price slipped from a high of around $60 a share in 2001 to a low of $2.50 in 2003. The stock was selling Sept. 5 at $5.41.

The company since has changed leadership and re-focused itself primarily as a software and services company, although it is still selling servers and storage hardware at moderate to good volumes.

The second biggest challenge Sun has faced, Schwartz said, is that "the market opportunity is vastly larger than our capacity to go after it. We could do business with 100 percent of the marketplace-we tend to win the deals we show up in front of, at a very, very high rate. The problem is we're not going to go hire on 300,000 people to go after it.

"So we're actually in the midst right now of creating joint-venture, equity-partner relationships with channel partners across the world in countries where we might not otherwise have a direct presence. That's becoming an increasing focus, especially in the developing world, where we see a lot of consumers coming online and driving a lot of technology spending," Schwartz said.

He said that the increasing amount of data being saved by businesses due to recent federal regulations-both in the United States and in numerous other countries-is requiring that data centers be faster and more efficient than ever, which requires the highest level of software and hardware performance.

"We at Sun are building reliability and performance right into our systems," Schwartz said. "OpenSolaris [Sun's open-source operating system] is the key technology that opens every market in the world for us. It is the fastest OS in the world."

Schwartz also touted Sun's other technologies.

"Java is one of the key engines running the Internet. Our new Zetabyte File System [ZFS] is the fastest of its kind in the world. Our Niagara 2 chips run double the threads of Niagara I, and use less than half the power," he said. "Virtually all our software is now open source, so that developers can go right in and start working on new projects.

"With all this ahead-of-the-curve technology, we believe we now can deliver what customers want-fast, reliable, safe, secure handling of their data at all levels."

Schwartz said that Sun will continue to ramp up development efforts in its storage sector, centering on the Thumper X4500 server-a 48-drive unit with a capacity of 24TB per box.

"Thumper utilizes the ZFS," Schwartz said, "and well be taking the message out to the open-source community more and more as time goes on. In fact, we've seen the open-source community grow and accelerate its activity. That's where the future of development lies."

In a separate announcement, enterprise deduplication software provider Diligent Technologies, of Framingham, Mass., said that it has entered into a global reseller agreement with Sun to resell the ProtecTIER software suite (enterprise and mid-range configurations) through both its direct sales teams and the channel.

Data deduplication is among the hottest emerging storage technology and is reshaping the nature of data protection. Diligent and Sun already have joint ProtecTIER customers, some with more than 1 petabyte of physical storage under management, Diligent CEO Doron Kempel said.

Diligent's ProtecTIER, offered in configurations to meet both enterprise and mid-range enterprise needs, offers the combination of the following per-node attributes: 400 MB/s inline throughput; up to 1 PB of physical capacity; and fine-grain data/source agnostic de-duplication algorithm that provides 100 percent data integrity.


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...