Sun Showcases New and Upcoming Software, Services

On tap: Reliability enhancements, Superclusters, N1 storage provisioning tool

Sun Microsystems Inc. today announced new reliability enhancements for its midrange and high-end SunFire systems, along with new pre-packaged “Superclusters” of high-end SunFire hardware.

The Unix giant also announced a raft of updated software releases slated for later this year, including new versions of Sun Management Center, Trusted Solaris Operating Environment, Sun ONE Collaborative Business Platform, StorEdge backup software, and the N1 Data Platform.

Starting later this month, Sun will make a new auto-diagnosis and recovery feature for Solaris available as a free download. Auto diagnosis and recovery describes a set of reliability features that introduce intelligent system monitoring and recovery capabilities in Sun’s SunFire servers.

The new technology includes facilities that monitor the health of a SunFire system and warn of impending system failures. Sun says that Auto Diagnosis and Recovery is able to detect and isolate faulty system components, and claims that in tests on its midrange SunFire 3800, 4800 and 6800 servers, the technology identified common system problems with 99.9 percent accuracy.

According to Ravi Pendekanti, senior director of marketing with Sun’s reference architectures and customer ready systems group, some hot-swappable components, such as CPU/Memory Boards, I/O assemblies, are among the most common causes of system malfunctions. In that sense, Pendekanti explains, Auto Diagnosis and Recovery is “more of a proactive process to figure out where the problems are occurring and start flagging out those problems before they hit the system.”

Sun says that the Auto Diagnosis and Recovery software will be available in late April, initially for its SunFire 3800, 4800 and 6800 systems. A version for SunFire 12K and 15K systems will ship later this year.

Sun today also announced the availability of pre-packaged Superclusters based on a combination of SPARC hardware and Sun application software, in the form of Sun’s ONE Grid Engine software and HPC ClusterTools 5 software.

Pendekanti says that Sun’s ONE Grid Engine can be used in conjunction with SunFire systems to support computational grids for a variety of different computing tasks. Although he acknowledges that grids have thus far caught on in specific vertical industries—such as aerospace, oil and gas exploration, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, among others—Pendekanti says that other enterprise markets exists for these solutions. “There are enterprises that are getting into applications that can utilize all of this stuff. A lot of modeling is being done by manufacturers, and I would classify that as a good example of how enterprises will design various models and simulations.”

Pendekanti indicates that Sun’s Superclusters can provide a pre-packaged power plant that scales up to two teraflops.

Sun will resell its 24-processor SunFire 6800, 52-processor SunFire 12K and 106-processor (limited I/O) SunFire 15K systems in Supercluster configurations. SunFire systems can be connected by means of Sun’s optical SunFire Link interconnect.

New Software

Foremost among Sun’s new software announcements was that of the N1 Data Platform, a component of Sun’s N1 utility computing strategy that provides storage pooling and consolidation through virtualization. Sun says that the N1 Data Platform includes: Fully redundant N1 Data Platform, integrated virtualization software, unlimited use point-in-time software, secure domain capability, an on-site 2 year warranty, and full Sun Services implementation engagement.

Sun also announced its new Sun ONE Collaborative Business Platform, which leverages its Sun ONE Messaging Server, Sun ONE Portal Server, and Sun ONE Identity Server products. Sun ONE Collaborative Business Platform facilitates services such as e-mail, calendaring and group scheduling, instant messaging, conferences, polls, discussions, and file and application sharing, in addition to content and knowledge management tools.

Sun also announced a new Secure Trading Agent for use with the Sun ONE Integration Server B2B Edition. The Secure Trading Agent is a Java-based client product that allows customers to securely exchange XML, EDI or other electronic documents between trading partners over the Internet. It supports Web services standards such as XML and SOAP. The product is available now.

In updated product announcements, version 3.5 of Sun’s Management Center is slated to ship sometime later this year, while Sun has promised to release Trusted Solaris 8 HW 12/02 later this spring for both SPARC and x86. Version 7.0 of Sun’s StorEdge backup software is scheduled for release this month.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.