Sun Microsystems is expected to unveil the first members of its long-awaited "industry-standard" 64-bit server family at its quarterly product roll-out in New York City Monday. Formerly code-named Galaxy, the Sun Fire X2100, X4100, and X4200 servers represent the company's bid to woo customers, particularly the financial industry sector, away from rival server vendors Hewlett-Packard and Dell.
"We're entering a new marketplace and will grow very fast," Larry Singer, vice president, global information systems strategy at Sun, said in an interview Friday. He estimated that what Sun is calling the industry-standard server market is worth about $17.5 billion. "We will be the lead player," he added.
The Sun Fire servers run on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Opteron processors. The Sun Fire X2100 is a single-socket rackmount server, the X4100 a two-way machine and the X4200 a four-way server. Sun will also preview future members of its new 64-bit Opteron-based family, notably an eight-processor, dual-core midrange server, Singer said.
The Sun Fire X2100 starts from $745 and is based around one Opteron Model 146 processor and comes with Sun's Solaris 10 operating system and 512MB of memory. Entry-level versions of the 1U Sun Fire X4100 and 2U Sun Fire X4200 are priced at $2,195 and $2,595, respectively and come with one Opteron Model 248 processor, a service processor, a power supply unit, Solaris 10 and 1GB memory, according to Sun. U is the standard unit for measuring the space between shelves on a server rack where 1U equals 1.75 inches.
"We're redefining what an industry-standard server is," Singer said. "We're taking on HP." He pointed to the availability and servicing features Sun has built into the servers such as hot-swap functionality so that customers can take out and replace components as the servers are running.
The new servers were designed by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim. He left Sun in 1995, returning in February 2004 when Sun purchased his server design company Kealia. At that time Bechtolsheim and his team started work on Galaxy. Sun had originally promised to bring Bechtolsheim's servers to market in the first half of this year.
"When we first bought Kealia, our intention was to rush products out to market," Singer said. "Instead, we spent a year camped out in New York, London and Hong Kong to find out what it would take for us to displace Dell and HP's industry servers." User concerns Sun discovered centered not only around price/performance but also on servers' efficiency and footprints as organizations found themselves running out of space in their datacenters, he added.
Sun used to dominate the financial industry, but lost its edge during the dot-com era, according to Singer. "We weren't paying attention, we got distracted by all these people with pierced body parts and blue hair," he said. "We missed changes in the marketplace. It's very distracting to grow at 60 percent per quarter and very humbling to have it disappear. We're now paying attention to Wall Street again."
At Monday's event, Sun expects to have plenty of Wall Street chief information officers on hand to talk about the company's new servers. Also at the event will be a host of independent software vendors (ISVs) who focus on the financial sector who'll announce that their applications run on Sun's Solaris 10 operating system.