Sun Microsystems last week shed new light on N1, a term that has puzzled many solution providers since the company began talking it up a year ago.
Some solution providers admitted recently that they still were not entirely sure what N1 is or when it will be available.
Curt Stevenson, vice president of business development for Boston-based solution provider Back Bay Technologies, said customers, too, are unclear on the actual business implications of N1. "Does it mean they're going to need to purchase additional software? Is it hardware? What does [N1] really mean?" he said.
Offering: N1 Provision Server 3.0 Blades Edition
>>%A0Stage: Virtualization,Data Center Version
Offering: Engagements led by Sun Professional Services
Availability: Pilots now; full launch 2nd half of calendar 2003
Availability: 2nd half of calendar 2003
>>%A0Stage: Application and Service-Level Provisioning
Availability: Calendar 2004, 2005
Peter Galvin, CTO of Corporate Technologies, a solution provider in Burlington, Mass., said, "The big question is, when can we implement [N1]? How long will it be until we can provision services on the fly? That's what everyone wants to know."
At a meeting in Menlo Park, Calif., Sun executives provided a detailed overview of N1 in an attempt to alleviate confusion.
Steve MacKay, Sun's N1 vice president, said N1 refers to a "vision, architecture and family of products" that will enable a customer to virtualize and then automatically provision and allocate resources within a large data center based on need.
MacKay said Sun will roll out N1 products in three stages over the next two years: virtualization, for both Sun blade servers and the data center; provisioning; and systems automation.
The first product to provide virtualization for Sun's blade servers, N1 Provision Server 3.0 Blades Edition, is slated for availability in April.
Sun currently is providing virtualization for the data center to select companies through a pilot overseen by its services organization, Sun Services, which plans to make this capability generally available later this year, MacKay said.
Products designed for network provisioning,the ability to manage network resources as needed,will be available in the same time frame, he added.
The systems-automation products, which will provide extensive automation for allocating and provisioning all the applications, hardware and services in a large network, will be rolled out in 2004 and 2005, he said.
Last week, Sun also bolstered its efforts to woo developers to Sun ONE software with a new integrated development platform and a new portal and program for developers. The Sun ONE Web Services Platform Developer Edition includes the Sun ONE application server, portal, identity server, integration server, studio tools and other software in one package with special licensing for developers.