Sun Expected to Unveil Long-Awaited Cluster Management Tools

Sun Microsystems Inc. Tuesday is expected to unveil two new components of its Net Effect initiative geared at helping e-businesses manage services rather than servers.

The components, Sun Cluster 3.0 and Sun Management 3.0, are part of its “Full Moon” clustering strategy and will help data-centers move away from traditional clustering to a more loosely clustered server farm approach offering both horizontal and vertical scaling.

With the new tools, users will aggregate individual and multiple applications into a single service like serving Web pages, serving e-mail or taking product orders. The service can then be deployed to multiple servers with a few clicks of a mouse, adding redundant systems to ensure that additional capacity and failover resources are readily available.

Cluster and Management are expected to pave the way for the creation of domains that can hook together hundreds of nodes all managed from a single operating system image. They will enable sharing of application, network and data resources without regard to the location of those resources in the cluster.

Sun has a strong hold on the e-business server market, but its servers are more expensive than similar Wintel offerings and its servers are often less robust than RISC-based servers from IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. While most customers have all the scalability they need with Sun’s products, some customers — like America Online — have been forced to buy more servers than they can really manage effectively.

Sun has been working on the technology for six years and is about a year overdue in releasing it. In the meantime, it has fallen behind competitors like IBM and HP in the clustering arena, and Microsoft has released Windows 2000 Datacenter, also focused on managing services. Windows 2000 Datacenter provides four-node clustering. Sun Cluster 3.0 is expected to offer eight-node clustering.

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