Sun launches N1-enabled blade system

By Lisa Coleman

Sun Microsystems recently announced the Sun Fire Blade Platform, the company's first server blade system with Network One (N1) software -- the N1 Provisioning Server 3.0 Blades Edition, which virtualizes a rack of blades as though they were one system. It also announced network-attached storage (NAS) optimized for blades, as well as a disk array and two tape products targeted at the entry-level market.

The Fire Blade Platform features the Fire B1600 "intelligent shelf" that lets users combine up to 16 blades (including Sparc/Solaris and x86/Linux server blades) and, later this year, secure socket layer (SSL) proxy and content load-balancing blades. The shelf also includes the provisioning software, and can be augmented with the StorEdge 3310 NAS device.

The N1 Provisioning Server 3.0 software is based on technology from Terraspring, which Sun acquired last November.

The software can reprovision blades from one server farm to another, add new blades, shelves or racks, as well as bring new blades online to replace failed blades. It supports Solaris, Linux, and Windows.

The StorEdge 3310 NAS device has 12 drives in a 2U form factor with 867GB of capacity and two expansion slots for up to 2.6TB. It runs a proprietary operating system. While the blades have their own storage built-in, the NAS device can augment the blade's basic storage for shared storage or for applications that require additional storage, says Bill Groth, senior director of storage systems marketing at Sun.

Dot Hill designed and engineered the 3310 NAS device based on Sun's specifications. (In February, Dot Hill expanded its multi-year agreement with Sun to include NAS products.) Solectron manufactures the 3310.

In addition, Sun introduced the 3510 Fibre Channel disk array, which starts in a 2U, 12-drive configuration that can be scaled to 5.2TB in a 6U, 36-drive version. The 3510 is available with one or two RAID controllers and eight Fibre Channel ports. The subsystem is NEBS Level 3 certified and complies with Mil-Spec 810F for ruggedized deployments.

Sun also introduced the StorEdge L8 tape autoloader and an SDLT 320 standalone tape drive. The autoloader includes LTO drive technology and is bundled with Sun Solstice Backup software.

To help ease users into a blade environment, Sun is offering a starter pack that includes eight blades, the intelligent shelf, provisioning software, and installation support for $27,000.

Pricing for a B1600 intelligent shelf that holds 16 blades begins at $4,795. A B100s Sparc blade starts at $1,795. The StorEdge 3310 NAS device starts at $18,995. A software license for the provisioning software is $3,920 per shelf. All the products will be available in Q2. The SSL and load balancing blades will be available later this year.

The StorEdge 3510 array starts at $22,995, the StorEdge L8 autoloader at $9,600, and the SDLT 320 tape drive at $5,195.

This article was originally published on February 19, 2003