Sun Beefs Up Blade System


The Sun Blade x8450 blade server can be configured for up to four quad core Intel Xeon processors. The blade server also includes 32 DIMM slots.

The Sun Blade x8450 is the latest addition to the Sun Blade 8000 Modular System, which allows mixing and matching between Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processor architectures along with a choice of operating systems including Solaris 10, Linux, Windows.

"The new X8450 is a fairly expected extension of our Intel relationship which we announced about a year ago, continuing to build out Intel products," said Mike McNerney, director of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor's blade server product line. "We're bringing a lot of blade benefits to four socket architecture such as the increased efficiency in terms of power and cooling of blades, increased surface availability and we're essentially double the memory, double I/O performance of any four- socket blade in the marketplace."

McNerney said the x8450 offers a number of opportunities to Sun solution providers.

Sponsored post

"For our channel partners blades are a more complicated sale than rack mount servers but that complexity allows the partner to really add value because now all of a sudden there's an architectural conversation, there's more service offering opportunities, there's a bunch of things that come into play," he said. "This is great for our channel partners to come in and add value around these architectures versus simply being a box pusher trying to survive off whatever margins they can eek out, like putting power cords on the back of a server."

Reaction to Sun's X8450 release was greeted with enthusiasm from Rob Wolfe, president and CEO of Vienna, Va.-based AvcomEast. Wolfe said his company runs the dual socket Quad Four in-house and they've migrated to four physical servers from other vendors to a single Sun server.

Wolfe said the main issue his customers have are concerns about the cost of real estate, the cost of power and cooling, and believes that Sun has "really continued to raise the bar on the rest of the market in products that help end users meet those needs and solve those products."

"As a reseller, years ago it used to be that we were only able to play with Sun in a second, third tier in an architecture for an end user. With Sun's move to Opteron and Xeon, and now what I think is the king of the hill with the density of this box, Sun continues to give the channel community the ability and the opportunity to sell a best- in-class product. I can relate to what this can do for an end user. The ability to take a single blade for a customer to get the economy, the real estate savings, and to virtualize over 16 cores, whether it's Windows or Linux," he said.

Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based Sun solution provider, said that Sun has historically had the most I/O-rich and feature-rich systems in the industry, a fact often overlooked.

"It's odd," Teter said. "You don't see Sun' when people do reviews of blades. It's true that Sun did drop out of the market for a time. But they came back with such a strong offering. I'm surprised the market doesn't see it. But I suppose it's a bad mark on Sun for its marketing."

The x8450 is a great computing platform for server virtualization, Teter said. "It's what the data center managers are looking for," he said. "Whether they use VMware [Palo Alto, Calif.] or some Xen-based hypervisor, the new blades offer a great application computing platform for data centers looking to control power and heating costs."

On Wednesday Sun also launched an online blade server solution portal for the Sun blade community which includes channel partners and ISVs.

"We're doing work with our partners to essentially bring forward and highlight partner-based solutions on our blades, so we've initially done some work with the ISV community, SAP and some of the systems management vendors," McNerney said. "We're also looking at third-party channel solutions to become part of that portfolio, so as we look at this architecture we can see the kind of solutions that our channel partners bring and how we can highlight these and bring those to the attention of our customers who are looking for those solutions. We're hoping that all can be generated through this community."

Since it re-entered the blade market 18 months ago, Sun said it has tied for the No. 4 spot in blade server market share for factory revenue as of the third quarter of calendar year 2007 with the release of 29 new blade products and 300 new customers.

Joseph F. Kovar contributed to this article.