Sun sets the controls for the heart of the mainframe

Sun Microsystems is taking its enterprise computing ambitions deep into mainframe territory. Sun is getting set for a January 22 launch of what is positioned as the biggest Unix server to date - a 64-processor symmetrical multiprocessing system based on Sun's latest 250-MHz UltraSPARC chips.

Sun Microsystems is taking its enterprise computing ambitions deep into mainframe territory.

Sun is getting set for a January 22 launch of what is positioned as the biggest Unix server to date - a 64-processor symmetrical multiprocessing system based on Sun's latest 250-MHz UltraSPARC chips.

The company will also unveil a high-availability RAID storage array, as part of a move to extend support for its enterprise storage products beyond Solaris and UltraSPARC platforms. The move gives Sun customers mainframe-like storage capacity that until now was available only from EMC, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

With average system prices starting at US$1 million, the Solaris servers are aimed at high-end data center applications, including online transaction processing, decision support and data warehousing. "It is going to give Unix users a scalability that was not available before," says James Garden, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. in Hampton, New Hampshire.

Sabre Decision Technologies in Dallas will receive the first Enterprise 10000 - a 32-procesor system that the company will use to run a new yield management optimisation application for American Airlines.

Richard Ratliff, vice president of Sabre, said, "If we get the kind of performance we are expecting out if it, we might be able to solve even more complicated problems. The server is expected to advance Sun's drive into the top server echelons, in which IBM and HP now dominate.

"It builds on their push into the commercial enterprise computing space," saysJean S. Bozman, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Mountain View, California.

Sun's new servers - previously code-named StarFire - include features developed by Cray Research Inc.'s SPARC-based server unit, which Sun purchased last year. The Enterprise 1000 will let users partition one server into multiple servers within the same enclosure. Sun is using Cray's Gigaplane-XB interconnect technology for systems scalability.

Sun will also offer complete hardware redundancy, hot-swappable system boards and a network-based system console for online maintenance and remote diagnostics.

On the storage side, Sun next month will enter the open systems disk storage market with its RSM Array 2000. Included in the announcement is a 2T-byte backup tape library product and Java-based storage management software.

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