Sun looks for props with new server, storage hardware

Sun Microsystems will hold its quarterly product launch this week, unleashing a raft of new hardware offerings spanning servers to storage.

In addition, the launch will include a demonstration of the latest version of its Nautics N2000 content switch, which Sun expects to begin shipping in volume by year end.

Sun will unveil new servers, called Sun Fire V490 and V890, based on the company's dual-core UltraSparc IV processor, which Sun began integrating into its high-end and midrange systems earlier this year. With their dual-core designs, the new systems will have twice the throughput of the V880 and V480 systems, according to Andy Ingram, vice president of marketing in the processor and network products group at Sun.

"What you're going to get with the [V890] is the footprint and price of an eight-way with the throughput of a 16-way," Ingram said.

Sun will also announce availability of its first storage array based on technology acquired from its 2002 purchase of Pirus Networks. The StorEdge 6920 will come in four configurations, ranging in capacity from 4TB to 16TB of storage, and it will be the first of a number of products in Sun's new Integrated Data Services Platform, which will use the storage virtualization capabilities developed for Pirus's switches.

Customers will be able to use the Pirus technology to represent different Sun storage devices as a single, virtualized storage array, a capability that is normally handled by server software and generally unavailable in storage arrays today, according to Arun Taneja, founder of The Taneja Group. Taneja said he expects Sun to extend this capability to non-Sun arrays as well.

"At some point in time, with the Pirus acquisition, they should also be able to do heterogeneous virtualization," Taneja said.

Sun will also enter the NAS arena with the launch of its StorEdge 5210 file server appliance and will also unveil an integrated archival storage system, similar to EMC's Centera, called the Sun Content Infrastructure System, the company said.

Alongside its new product push, Sun is hoping to staunch the flow of financial companies moving from Sun's Solaris operating system to Linux by holding its quarterly product launch in conjunction with a financial services customer event. Sun officials are aiming to prove that the company has a viable strategy for low-cost servers based on the x86 instruction set.

As part of the effort, Sun plans to announce new relationships with a number of financial services ISVs, who will be porting their applications to Solaris x86, according to Anil Gadre, chief marketing officer at Sun.

Although Sun has yet to strike a deal to distribute Solaris with a top-tier equipment manufacturer such as Hewlett-Packard or Dell, Gadre hopes the fact that Solaris has been certified to run on top-tier hardware platforms will convince financial companies that Solaris is merely an add-on to Sun's hardware.

"We're going back and saying Solaris today runs on 230 platforms. You don't have to run it on gear from just Sun," Gadre said.