Sun Microsystems would like me to use their x64 servers for my virtualisation platform (instead of the HP ProLiant DL585s that I’m currently using). Many of our conversations have been covered by a non-disclosure agreement so I can’t write much here, but the details of the current Sun Fire and Sun Blade x64 servers are in the public domain – and they are certainly worth a look.
I’ll need some pretty serious convincing to move away from our 100% HP ProLiant Windows server estate, especially as we use HP Systems Insight Manager for hardware monitoring and have had some issues in the past integrating hardware from other OEMs; however, the Sun servers do look pretty good – especially for anyone in the market for an 8-way server, where the Sun Fire x4600 is particularly impressive – I guess if HP had an equivalent box it would be called the ProLiant DL785. Sun also have 2-way servers (that would be positioned to compete with the HP ProLiant DL365) and a blade enclosure that’s broadly similar to the HP C-class blade enclosure, which I wrote about a few weeks back. Strangely though, there is a gap – with no 4-way equivalent to the HP ProLiant DL585. They all look to be pretty well engineered, with extra NIC capacity (4 ports as standard) as well as all the other features that could be expected on a modern server (management processor, redundant hot swap power supplies, separate airflows for components, etc.) and a service console port (something that administrators of Sun SPARC servers will have been used to for a while now). In fact, if I had any concerns, it would be about the delay in bringing new developments to market – for example the largest serial attached SCSI (SAS) hard disk drives current offered by Sun are 73GB, whereas some competitors have 146GB SAS drives available.
Sun are still a small player in the x86/x64 server space – but they are rapidly increasing their market share (revenue up 48% and market share up 0.7% year on year [source IDC]); however it should also be noted that market-leaders HP also saw modest growth over the same period. I’ll watch Sun’s progress with interest, and who knows, maybe soon I’ll be in a position to specify some Sun servers somewhere.