Sun's Galaxy quest starts next week

Sun's Galaxy quest starts next week

Sun Microsystems plans to introduce a new line of servers, code-named Galaxy, in New York City on Sept. 12, company officials said. With these new servers, which will use Advanced Micro Devices's Opteron microprocessors, Sun may be attempting to regain some of the market might it once wielded.

The Galaxy line was designed by Andy Bechtolsheim, chief architect and senior vice president at Sun, since he returned to the company. Bechtolsheim, one of Sun's founders, left the company in 1995 but returned last year when Sun acquired a company he had started up, Kealia.

Sun has revealed some details of Galaxy to industry analysts. Galaxy servers will be based on dual-core Opteron processors, said Nathaniel Martinez, an analyst with IDC who received some additional details about the product from Sun. Also, like some IBM products, the Galaxy line will include an 8-way system. Hewlett-Packard and Dell have both said they won't produce 8-way systems.

Martinez expects that Sun will mainly use Galaxy to target its installed base of customers. "They have a significant installed base that has been tapped into by all the other vendors," he said.

With Galaxy, Sun may also have the opportunity to upsell software and services. "Sun is trying to move away from being a pure systems seller," said Martinez. Like its competitors, Sun is looking to sell more software bundles in addition to its server products and may have the chance to do so along with new Galaxy sales.

Sun has also been offering a different type of licensing model, based on charging users by employee. "They'll have a whole new proposition," Martinez said.

Sun historically was well-known as a technology innovator but lost its edge a bit in the last few years. Bechtolsheim is seen as one of the keys to that historical success and because he designed Galaxy, some observers think Sun now has a chance to regain some of its former reputation as a market leader.

"People have been bashing them all the time, saying they're dead and they're not coming back," Martinez said. "But even if they won't grow in the first couple of years [after Galaxy], they'll be better able to defend their installed base. They'll no longer be an easy target."

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