Channel Skeptical Of Sun's N1 Vision

Plan may be too far-reaching, partners say

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Solution providers say they'll take a wait-and-see stance to implementing Sun Microsystems' N1 network management and provisioning software as Sun rolls out related products for its overall network computing strategy throughout the year.

"N1 seems very grandiose to me," said one Sun solution provider, who requested anonymity. "It's a good idea, but I don't understand how it really works with all of the different applications."

Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy unveiled the first version of N1 at a press conference here last week. He also laid out plans for a component-based approach to Sun's long-heralded vision for network computing, which the company has now officially dubbed Network Computing 03, Q1. N1 is part of this larger strategy.

>> Sun's plan will involve updates released every calendar quarter for its entire product line.


Another solution provider said he's not convinced N1 can set up and manage Sun's and other vendors' software and servers across a network. Though N1's first version, N1 Provision Server 3.0 Blades Edition, is for use with Sun blade servers, Sun plans greater interoperability with its products and other vendors' products in later versions.

"I think N1 is a long way from being useful," the solution provider said, asking not to be named.

Sun's new plan will involve updates released every calendar quarter for its entire product line, which Network Computing 03, Q1, encompasses. That's why the first version of the architecture is called Q1.

Solution providers said the updates will streamline the flow of information from Sun to its partners.

"Trying to get all communications under control is positive," said Peter Galvin, CTO of Corporate Technologies, Burlington, Mass. "There's a firehose of stuff from Sun always coming at us, so sorting it out over time has been hard." Still, Galvin said he's reluctant to implement N1 until the full product set becomes available.

Although it's valuable for partners to understand Sun's unified network-computing architecture, customers will still ask what each product is and how much it costs, said Ron Kattas, vice president of business development at TLA Associates, an Alexandria, Va.-based solution provider.

"From a reseller perspective, we [have to] get down to tactics and look at the products," Kattas said.

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