Sun fires first Blade server products

With the release of the highly anticipated Sun Fire Blade platform, Sun Microsystems Canada wants to be all things to all people.

The new Blade solution was designed from the ground up to be the first multi-architecture system enabling resellers and their customers to mix, match and manage

Solaris, Linux, Sun’s Sparc architecture and X86 architectures from Intel and AMD. Sun Fire Blade will be part of Sun’s first N1 software product, the N1 Provisioning Server 3.0 Blades Edition.

Brad Keates, vice president of marketing and partners for Sun Canada, based in Markham, Ont., said the Blade servers announcement along with the new services, software and visualization products will enable Sun partners to blanket the market place.

“”There is something for just about everybody,”” he said. “”In the past, if you had just a single product announcement it may or may not be a fit for a customer. But the breadth of the products and services announced today we should really give each partner a opportunity to go and talk to everyone.””

However, James Governor, a market analyst for RedMonk of London, U.K. called this announcement one of those “”bet the company”” moments.

“”Vendors like to use that term rhetorically, but in Sun’s case its true. It needs to start driving and surfing the disruption; otherwise it is going to wipe out. The status quo is not an option,”” Governor said.

Keates admitted that the Blade market place is relatively a new market place, but he believes Sun is at the front end of something significant.

“”Sun announced we were going to be delivering Blades as part of a N1 architecture. N1 is a Sun architecture (for) bundling all of the products and services that a customer would have on site into a single easily manageable mechanism,”” Keates said.

Also part of the strategy will be a drastic reduction in prices. According to Keates, the price cuts will show to the market place that Sun is serious about being a low cost provider.

He added that price cuts will not mean new discount or margin category changes for Sun’s partner base.

Governor had a different take on the low price movement from Sun.

“”Lower prices is good for users, but not always for resellers in the short term, as margins erode. On the other hand, pricing is falling fast, and Sun’s resellers, just like the mothership, have to bring prices down in order to be competitive. Sun can’t outrun Intel and the commoditization wave in the long term, but for now it can compete in terms of broad functionality and integration,”” Governor said.

“”We are not trying to remove margin out of the game,”” Keates said. “”We are offering these complete solutions such as the Blade Web and Security server that give them more room for the broad level sale for partners where there is more margin instead of just selling the box. We want to get them to the point where they can sell a solution focused on core competencies,”” Keates said.

Governor did praise Sun for accepting that SMP and the “”scale up”” are not the only game in town.

“”No one should discounts Sun’s ability to meet hardcore engineering challenges head on. It’s not so long ago; after all, that folks scoffed at the idea of a Solaris mainframe…and then came the E10K.

“”Now it is taking on a new engineering and marketing challenge that will truly deliver on this promise without recourse to monoliths for transaction processing,”” Governor said.

Initially Keates sees Blades on the edge of the enterprise with security and Web performance. Moving forward, he said, Sun expects to see Blades become an integral part of all elements of enterprise computing.

“”I think it will move from the edge to the inside,”” Keates said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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