Sun Takes on Linux, Windows With Entry-level Servers

Taking a page from IBM’s playbook, Sun MicrosystemsInc. launched two entry-level servers yesterday as consolidation solutions. Sunbelieves enterprises will be interested in moving two or more commodity serversonto a single Solaris Unix server.

The two servers, the Netra 20 and the Sun Fire V880,are entry-level servers based around Sun’s UltraSparc III processor.  Sun works from an IDC definition thatdesignates servers under $100,000 as “entry-level.” The Netra 20 is availablein one- and two-way configurations, and is ruggedized to meet the needs of thetelecommunications market. The Sun Fire V880 features two to four processorsand is the crux of Sun’s consolidation strategy.

According to Sun, enterprises can find improved TotalCost of Ownership (TCO) by moving several Windows or Linux servers onto asingle Solaris server. Sun believes Solaris servers are more reliable thancommodity, Intel-based servers, so enterprises can lose some of the redundancyneeded in an Intel-based infrastructure and trim staffing costs.

IBM makes a similar pitch with its Linux on the mainframeofferings, but it differs in a few ways. While IBM positions the Linuxmainframe as a way to move disparate services such as email and databases ontoa single machine, Sun is more interested in the presentation layer of an n-tierweb architecture. They expect enterprises to swap out Windows or Linux boxesfacing the web onto more powerful Unix boxes.

According to Benjamin Baer, group manager for volumesystems products at Sun, Sun competes on two fronts, the Unix market and theIntel/commodity market. On the Unix side, it competes against traditional Unixofferings from vendors like IBM Corp., Hewlett Packard Co., and Compaq ComputerCorp.

“The Intel/commodity architecture is a different kindcompetition,” Baer says. While in the Unix world vendors compete on stabilityand performance, the commodity market competes primarily on price. Sun hopes toshow that a more powerful Solaris machine can be cheaper than an array of cheapservers running Windows or Linux. In addition, it has introduced Solarisservers at price points comparable to Intel-based servers. –Chris McConnell