Sun Microsystems on Wednesday said it now has solid state drives available for certain of its x64 and CMT rack-mount and blade servers.
The news is only the first in a series of NAND-based flash memory releases to come before June, according to channel sources.
Instead of just adding a SATA or SAS interface to a solid state drive, or SSD, and putting it in a server, Sun is actually designing its servers around the NAND technology, according to a Sun solution provider who asked to remain anonymous.
Sun actually has an extensive line of flash-based products coming out this year, from mini-flash and PCI Express-based products to the industry's first mini-flash array, and actually seems to be leading the industry with the technology, the solution provider said.
"Sun is looking at how it can best use this technology, and it's not just behind a disk interface," the solution provider said. "It's designing servers around the flash memory. I am impressed with Sun's innovation with storage again. Sun now has a chance to get back into storage in a big way."
For Sun, the addition of solid state storage to its lower-cost servers is the latest in the company's Open Storage initiative.
Sun's Open Storage initiative, introduced in July, calls for the increased use of industry-standard components to enable customers to quickly expand storage capacity at a low cost.
On Wednesday, Sun said it is adding SSD technology to its x64 and CMT rack and blade servers to increase their performance for I/O-intensive applications and lower power consumption significantly.
Sun in November introduced SSDs in its new Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems, also known as Amber Road. Amber Road, which is a series of hybrid server/storage devices, pools all hard drives and solid state drives in a new type of RAID configuration that allows quick addition of new drives and fast RAID rebuilds.
Rob Wolfe, president and CEO of AvcomEast, a Vienna, Va.-based solution provider and Sun partner, said that, based on the success of Amber Road, Sun is smart to commit to solid state storage.
Wolfe said his company has purchased three Amber Roads for demonstration purposes, the most of any demo product it has ever purchased. "And they are busy every week with our reps," he said. "They're busier than any product from any vendor we've had for a long time."
Sun's x64 servers, based on industry-standard components, have more features than other AMD-based or Intel-based servers, but until the addition of SSD storage have been lumped together in customers' minds as a me-too product, Wolfe said.
"But with SSD, here's Sun saying, this is something completely new," he said. "They've found lightning in a bottle with Amber Road and SSD, and now they are leveraging it with other products."
Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based Sun solution provider and Sun partner, said Sun's line of servers with SSD storage is very impressive.
"Customers are very much interested in the new products," Teter said. "We have been focusing on storage capacity in the last 24 months. Now we can focus on performance."
Sun officials could not be reached for comment. However, Raymond Austin, group manager for senior product management at Sun, said in a video posted on the company's Web site that SSD technology helps customers achieve up to 65 times faster response times, up to eight times better throughput and up to 38 percent less power consumption than servers with traditional spinning hard disk drives.
"Sun is the first systems provider to integrate flash technology across its entire systems portfolio, including blades, CMT and x64 servers, to instantly and efficiently increase application I/O performance," Austin said.
Enterprise-grade SSD flash technology is available as of Wednesday, starting at $1,199, and with integrated server systems starting at $3,240 for the Sun Fire X6250 Blade system.