McNealy: Galaxy servers to ship in volume soon

Sun's CEO Scott McNealy discussed recent product delays and Sun's European business at Gartner's ITxpo conference.

Sun Microsystems' Galaxy servers will be shipping in large quantities with standard lead times in "a matter of days," Scott McNealy, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said Wednesday at the Gartner ITxpo in Cannes, France.

With much fanfare, Sun announced its new Galaxy line of servers in September, saying they'd be available in October but last week Sun executives confirmed that the servers weren't yet shipping in volume. McNealy said the delay hadn't resulted in any damage to the company.

That setback is balanced by the fact that Sun's Niagara-based servers will ship this year, earlier than expected, he said. McNealy gave two explanations for the early launch. The degree of difficulty in creating the multicore and multithreaded Niagara chip is lower than in trying to push the boundaries of a single threaded chip, he said. That contributes to an overall simplicity in designing and debugging the chips, compared to other types of chips, he said.

In addition, Sun has used much standard software and hardware to make the Niagara servers, including the standard Sparc V9 architecture, the Solaris 10 operating system, Java and the same hardware as Galaxy, he said. Using such existing components combined with the simplicity of developing the Niagara chips allowed Sun to speed up the production of the product.

McNealy also said that Sun hopes to turn on its Sun Grid Compute Utility, its initiative offering pay-per-use of computing cycles and storage capacity, in the U.S. this month. Sun hopes to have a similar facility in Europe next year. However, European regulations mean that Sun may have to create grids in multiple geographies, which may raise costs for users, he said.

McNealy also said that 60 percent of Sun revenue comes from outside of the U.S. and that Sun wasn't expecting to reveal any disappointments in Europe like competitor Dell Inc. recently announced. Dell this month reported missing expectations for the second quarter in a row and blamed poor performance in the U.K. in part for the downturn.

Sun has made some changes in Europe in recent months, however. In June, Chief Human Resources Officer Crawford Beveridge added executive vice president and chairman of Sun Europe to his title. Sun gave him the extra duties when it flattened its organization recently, removing a European headquarters in favor of more regional operations, McNealy said. With that change, Beveridge was appointed to steer the European operations because the reorganization left a bit of a void in European leadership, he said.

Furthering its support of international markets, on Friday, Sun will open a new facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, McNealy said.

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