A Sun Cluster of a Deal

On-and-off-again supporters of the x86 microprocessor, Sun Microsystems
, announced Monday an alliance with a database clustering
company to build a case for its Solaris OS on x86-based machines.

Starting Monday, Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Metapa said its Cluster DataBase (CDB) software can be shipped on the Sun Fire V60x, V65x and V20z servers, in what officials from both sides say helps “bring the power of low-cost computing to data warehousing.”

Sun has spent a contentious two years explaining it’s role within the x86 architecture, notably its flip flop on first deciding not to support the Intel architecture on Solaris, then coming around and building a server line on AMD’s own x86 chipset.

“We never should have abandoned x86,” John Loiacono, Sun vice president of operating platforms, said at the time.

The non-exclusive agreement with Metapa furthers the Santa Clara, Calif., Sun’s support for x86, allowing the 2- and 4-way servers Sun pitches to get snapped up by scientific research firms and academia looking for pre-installed cluster and database capabilities. With Metapa’s software, the company said its customers can store and analyze data instantly on terabyte-sized server farms, at a level of detail officials say was not economically feasible before. They also say a Sun/Metapa mix can increase the total cost of investment 10 times as fast as with existing competitors.

To prove the point, Cyrus Golkar of Sun’s business intelligence data warehousing effort said the company is sometimes putting millions of dollars of its own money to fund proof of concept demonstrations with potential customers.

“Some of these systems, just to do proof of concept, in some cases we have invested as much as $5 million ourselves,” he told internetnews.com.

Metapa, primarily a business intelligence software company before buying data clustering technology from Didera, Inc., for $3.7 million in September 2003, said the deal with Sun is a big win for them, giving the small company an in-road to Sun’s vast sales force and customers.

Dave Powell, Metapa CEO, expects his company to at least triple its business in each of the next two years because of the Sun agreement, though the role data warehousing itself will play in the enterprise lends itself to his company’s data clustering software. He pointed out research firm IDC from 2003, which said it’s a $32 billion market, with $8 billion for servers and $9.4 billion for software.

“Analysts are saying data warehousing is the strongest area of IT spending,” Powell told internetnews.com. “Metapa’s at the heart of it, and I think there’s no ceiling on how far we can grow over the next few years.”

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