Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sun's Niagara Server: Try Before You Buy

Sun Microsystems may have come up with the perfect price for its new Sun Fire T2000 server --- free.

The catch? After 60 days, your coach turns back into a pumpkin. But, through a program announced on Sun president/COO Jonathan Schwartz's company blog, prospective users can sign up to try out the Sun Fire T2000 (also known by the Niagara code name for the new product line) for two months without charge. The offer is available for a limited time and is good in any country with a Sun subsidiary that is not subject to U.S. export restrictions.

Schwartz noted that a similar promotion with the company's first Opteron servers resulted in a good number of paying customers. "We distributed a bunch of free servers to new customers, just to get them exposed to Sun. It had the desired impact - on average, the 'return' on the investment of a free server was an average purchase order of (about) 15 systems," he said. "So we gradually ramped up the number of free systems -- like a free software download, it's easier to close a sale with a self-qualified customer than an unqualified marketplace. This was an especially effective means of acquiring new customers -- a free server being a lot cheaper than a Super Bowl ad (and far more effective at qualifying interest within a datacenter -- you have to be more than a casual user to want a rackmount server)."

The 2U T2000 is part of Sun's challenge to the encroachment of x86 servers on its market share over the past few years. The server can sport as many as eight cores and uses a multi-threading architecture with each core able to handle up to four threads, with the aim of boosting overall server performance for Sun users while cutting power requirements noticeably. The company claims benchmarks that show twice the speed of comparable Intel Xeon systems while using only half the power.

Companies that opt to buy the T2000 after the trial, though, will notice some price escalation, since the T2000 starts at a list of $7,795. But Schwartz also noted that at least one recipient of the free trial offer will do better; the first trial customer to post a "compelling testimonial" on the T2000 that includes benchmarks against another system will get to keep the system without charge.