Sun coaxes enterprises down the Starcat-walk

NEW YORK – In a bid to further its enterprise data centre penetration, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced several new initiatives on Monday, including a powerful flagship server.

Expected to play in the same space as Sun’s E10000, the Unix-based SunFire 15K, dubbed Starcat, features 106 processors, 576 GB of memory, 18 I/O hubs and, according to Sun, boasts 300 per cent more throughput than any competitive system.

Starcat can be partitioned into 18 separate servers, features full redundancy, three “switchboards” that provide paths between components and Sun’s Uniboard technology, which allows systems boards to be rip and replaced across the company’s entire server family, officials said.

Steve Campbell, Sun’s senior director of enterprise systems marketing for computer systems, said offering customers a server of Starcat’s magnitude will organizations consolidate their server load.

Although the current economic climate makes selling a US$10 million server a challenge, he said the opportunity to reign in costs over the long term makes it a wise investment. “People who jump on (Starcat) today can use it as a competitive advantage when the market rebounds,” Campbell said. “This is a hot topic.”

Ed Zander, president and chief operating officer of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun, boasted of Sun’s single platform strategy, and took several swipes at rival IBM Corp. for its mix of operating system offerings, and what he called its reliance on services to patch its products together.

“What you have there is lots of Global Services, lots of costs. You the customer looses control of . . . your procedures,” he said.

Sun announced it has also bought the mainframe business of San Francisco-based communications and messaging vendor Critical Path Inc. The acquisition will let Sun offer its customers mainframe-rehosting services, letting them migrate CICS applications via middleware to Sun’s Solaris operating environment.

The press conference was opened with subdued introduction, as Zander, a native-New Yorker, told attendees how Sun originally cancelled the event, held in a hotel in downtown Manhattan only miles from the site of the World Trade Center devastation. However, Sun officials opted to go ahead after New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleaded with the business community to engage in normal, day-to-day operations.

“We need to get back to business, and we need to get back to business in New York,” Zander said.

A visibly shaken chairman and CEO Scott McNealy, who called for a moment of silence for a Sun employee killed during the terrorist attacks, followed him on stage.

He also congratulated Sun’s New York employees for getting back on their feet after its office was destroyed in Sept. 11.

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