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A New Star In The Galaxy?

A few weeks ago, a report from Gartner dinged Sun Microsystems for its revenue drop in the midst of a strong server market; Gartner pointed particularly to the lack of breadth in Sun's product line as the culprit. Turns out Sun was already on the case, though.
This week, the company introduced a new line of Sun Fire servers, dubbed the Galaxy line, that introduces some real power on an Opteron platform at prices that, at the low-end, are pretty startling. For instance, how about the Sun Fire X2100, a single-socket, rack-mount server with a starting price of $745? That's right, folks, I didn't drop a digit there--that's a three-figure price that instantly makes some clustering deployments seriously affordable.

Of course, at that price, Sun will have to sell a zillion of the things to see any real revenue boosts. But the Galaxy line also includes some beefier power at higher (but hardly ridiculous) prices, and Graham Lovell, Sun's senior director of x64 servers, says the company feels that the Galaxy machines will give them a bigger boost with mid-tier companies that play in the 1-way to 8-way space. That's right where Gartner felt Sun was lacking, and any success with this lineup will help alleviate the problem.

Sun had plenty of other news revolving around servers at its Network Computing event this week; one telling item was its plan to offer a pre-configuring service that will let server administrators use a Web-based, menu driven system to figure out their optimal configuration before they place a final order. Sun will then set up the racks and other components and ship them ready to plug in, with the goal of instant deployment -- and the savings that IT budgets will realize from the hours saved on sheer setup time. "If you buy systems today and want to deploy them as quickly as possible, it's critical for customers to know that they'll have the support they need for that," Lovell says. Service is an edge that Sun's competitors, notably IBM, have used to great advantage. This approach certainly won't hurt in the catch-up effort.