Sun Microsystems has kick-started a low-cost computing effort with new blade servers and deepened partnerships with Oracle and Linux vendor Red Hat. Also touting a blade initiative, IBM last week unveiled prepackaged blade clusters, which leverage its 1350 Linux/Intel cluster technology on its eServer BladeCenter blade servers. BladeCenter can hold as many as 84 blades per rack.
Officials at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun admitted it arrived late to the low-end server game.
"We did not exactly jump on the 32-bit low-cost bandwagon early, but we're jumping on it big now," said Scott McNealy, Sun's president, chairman, and CEO at a San Francisco event last week.
The new Sun Fire V60x and V65x blades are priced starting at $2,450 and $2,650, respectively, and come with 2.8GHz or 3.06GHz Intel Xeon processors and a choice of Solaris x86 or Red Hat Linux, Sun said.
Also, reaffirming its relationship with Oracle, Sun said Oracle's software will run on all of its systems whether they run Solaris x86, Solaris Sparc, or Linux. Together, Sun and Oracle will go on a low-cost computing drive and launch a joint "Oracle makes Sun unbreakable" advertising campaign, they said.
Sun and Oracle appeared to want to dispel a perception that the combination of their products with the term "low-cost" is an oxymoron.
"This [announcement] really does serve to put the industry on notice that Sun and its partners are the leaders in low-cost computing," said Mark Tolliver, executive vice president of marketing and strategy at Sun.
Still, it appears that Sun has not embraced the low-cost computing model as much as its partner Oracle, said Gordon Haff, a senior analyst at Illuminata, in Nashua, N.H.
"Sun certainly wants us to believe that they are very committed to low-end servers. I think it is fair to say that Sun has a greater focus on low-end servers than in the past," Haff said.
In teaming with Red Hat, Sun is replacing its own Sun Linux. The global partnership with Red Hat calls for Sun to offer Red Hat on its x86 compatible systems and for the Linux vendor to include Sun's Java Virtual Machine with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Sun said.