Sun Delivers ‘Rugged’ Netra 1280 Server

At a Sun Microsystems
product event two weeks ago, Sun President and CEO Scott McNealy said
his
company was eschewing the gradual rollout approach for four quarterly
“megalaunches” of major technology solutions.


But there are special circumstances. The Santa Clara, Calif. firm
Tuesday
launched a different version of the 1280 it introduced to the public at the megalaunch, one geared for rough and tumble
environments in the telecommunications industry.


Steve Campbell, vice president of marketing, Enterprise Systems
Products
Group at Sun, said Sun was still adhering to the new quarterly
philosophy,
but that the outfit did not want the public to get the two 1280 servers
confused by releasing them at the same time. The Sun Fire v1280 is for
more
general computing needs, while the Netra 1280 is tailored for carriers,
and
is quite hardy for harsh environments to weather natural disasters,
such as
earthquakes and heavy storms.


So, now that the pomp and circumstance over the Sun Fire v1280 has
subsided,
Campbell discussed the Netra 1280 server, describing it as the
industry’s
first rack-mountable 12-way machine to come equipped with Network
Equipment
Building Standard (NEBS) Level 3 Certification and DC power.


Originally developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories in the ’70s, NEBS
is a
measure of quality in the telecommunications second. It is designed to
help
assure that equipment purchases are easy to install, operate reliably,
and
efficiently occupies building space. The idea is that physical
configurations and equipment compatibility within an environment will
help
to reduce product installation and maintenance costs.


NEBS-3 means assures optimum equipment functionality and allows vital
network equipment such as switches, transport products and power
systems to
work together. Telecom customers can run large database applications,
softswitch installations, intelligent networking, operations management
and
billing in the central office with the Netra 1280.


With office space at a premium, Campbell said Sun believes it has an
edge
with the Netra 1280 because of the new opportunities it creates for
server
consolidation and upgrades in central offices. For example,
server/application consolidation becomes especially important as new
wireless applications are deployed.


In the current economic environment, Campbell said, customers are
looking
for great performance at reasonable costs to conform to their tight
budgets.


“It’s all about lowering costs… and this latest Netra 1280 offering
makes
it a reality for our carriers, service provider and network equipment
provider (NEP) customers,” Campbell told internetnews.com.

Why the machine might be a bargain of sorts for telcos, the industry
itself
should prepare for some considerable indecision in the way it spends
for
infrastructure. After all, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
ruled
last week
that
state public utility commissions can require the regional Bells to
continue
lease their copper lines to competitors at steeply discounted rates for
at
least three more years.


Some industry experts say this may negatively impact how the carriers and
service
providers spend on equipment. Seeing as how the Netra 1280 is geared
for
telcos, there may be some uncertainty on the willingness to pick up
such a
machine.


Jean Bozman, Research VP, IDC Global Enterprise Server Solutions, said the new offering is still an attractive offering despite the slackened IT budgets, partly because of Sun’s reputation as a solid supplier of carriers.


Bozman told internetnews.com that most of the servers telcos use are Unix/RISC-based, which is what Sun specalizes in. Bozman said IDC counts Sun as the leading entry-level Unix server (machines priced less than $100,000) supplier in the world, and despite the flagging infrastructure spending, enjoys comfortable business in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in Asia-Pacific markets.


“While this is a sub $100,000 server, it still brings in some midrange capabilities,” Bozman said. “It offers great controllability and reliability for tough environments, and with NEBS-3 certification, offers a lot of performance for the price.”


The Netra 1280 server features Dynamic Reconfiguration and hot
swappable
CPU/memory boards in a sturdy form factor, and up to 12 900 MHz
UltraSPARC
III CPUs, and 96GB of memory to provide room for growth if needed. It
is 21
inches in height and features a shallow depth of 22 inches to fit
easily
most racks.


Campbell, who counted Lucent as a customer employing Netra 1280s, said
this
is a space-saving advantage over most competitive systems today, which
require proprietary racks, none of which are less than 28 inches deep.


The pricing is as follows: 4-way with 8 Gbytes of memory for $89,995; 8-way model with 16 Gbytes of memory for $137,495; 12-way version with 24 Gbytes of memory is listed at $184,995; and the 12-way model with 96 Gbytes starts at $284,995.

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