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Sun Spawns Opteron Servers, Encrypted Tape

When Jonathan Schwartz took the helm of Sun Microsystems in April, it wasn't clear what kind of company he inherited--an old-school vendor of expensive, proprietary systems, or an industry stalwart revitalized around open source software and standards-based hardware.

After two quarters of solid sales growth, fueled by x86 and Sparc servers and an open source version of its Solaris operating system, Schwartz thinks the answer is now clear. "The proprietary and expensive moniker is now dead," Schwartz wrote on his blog last month. "Dead dead dead." And there's this significant factoid to back him up: Sun recently bumped Dell out of the No. 3 spot in server sales, behind IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Schwartz this week will unveil a number of products on the turf of its most important customer base: Wall Street, whose big, demanding tech organizations will determine how long Sun's rebound lasts. Among the advances Sun will tout: faster processors and increased memory in its midrange UltraSparc IIIi server line; servers equipped with Advanced Micro Devices' most recent Opteron processors; and encrypted tape storage on the acquired StorageTek platform. Sun also is incorporating the multicore UltraSparc T1-based processor platform into its Netra systems for telecom carriers.

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz

The offerings demonstrate the growing breadth of Sun's product line, which once showed gaps despite the company's big R&D investments and touted innovations. "We went through a period when we didn't have a new product portfolio," acknowledges John Fowler, executive VP of Sun's systems group. "There was a lot of skepticism."

Still High on High End
Sun is on pace to sell $500 million in AMD-based servers this year, though customers are still buying lots of UltraSparc servers for top performance. The new products and the pilgrimage to Wall Street show that while Schwartz fights the "expensive" label, Sun isn't retreating from the computing high end.

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