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When Sun reentered the blade market last year it promised to bring new value to the market and not another me-too offering. That strategy continues with today's announcement of a unique hardware subscription service for the Sun Blade X8420 system.

Sun  said the subscription service is for customers who want the latest, most powerful processors for growing businesses, where they expect demands on the data center to grow steadily. A 42-month subscription contract includes the Sun Blade 8000 modular system and three hardware refreshes to the latest and fastest AMD  Opteron processors.

The Sun Blade X8420 has an entry level price of $13,095 per server module. Powered by the AMD Opteron 8000 series of processors, the X8420 features 4-socket dual-core 2.8 GHz processors and I/O Sun claims has 16 times the throughput of competing 4-socket blade and rackmount servers.

"The ability to do this is in a blade system instead of a box [server] is pretty compelling and seamless," Mike McNerney, director of Blades marketing at Sun told internetnews.com. "This is half the cost of what you'd pay if you bought the upgrades separately."

Still, McNerney readily conceded the subscription commitment isn't for everyone. "There is certainly a target customer, we don't think they all want to do this."

But, McNerney said the program enables a more strategic, longer term discussion with customers about their growth plans. "Instead of always pitching what the hottest box is, we can talk about their growth and plans or need to be able to scale," said McNerney.

The subscription might also be an alternative to the 'buy a system and depreciate it' syndrome McNerney said companies have become addicted to, which can involve a complicated procurement cycle.

IDC analyst Jean Bozman thinks Sun is taking the technology refresh idea to the next level. "This is aimed at folks growing their data center rapidly who need the latest and greatest processors," Bozman told internetnews.com. "It guarantees that top performance and it gives Sun a measure of predictability of ongoing demand."

She mentioned companies offering Web services as the type that might be especially interested in the top processing the subscription service offers.