Sun Microsystems has begun delivering on its N1 networked computing strategy, with almost a dozen hardware and software releases.
N1 is Sun's name for a distributed network of servers, storage and software treated as one virtual computer with the aim of optimising resources to achieve more flexibility at less cost.
Scott McNealy, Sun president and chief executive, said that every server room is different and has unique requirements, creating a big cost and complexity challenge.
His solution is to release compatible 'Lego' components that would all work and scale together.
"Every 90 days there will be an announcement covering a series of new functionalities and features. This is a big innovation," he said.
Sun's new strategy has a strong emphasis on blade technology, and the company's new N1 Provisioning Server 3.0 Blades Edition allows blade servers in different systems to be used as one virtual system.
Also released is the first multi-architecture Sun Fire blade platform which supports McNealy's 'Lego' theory by providing a mix of Sun Sparc and Intel x86 architecture blade servers running both Solaris and Linux.
This device includes a secure sockets layer blade, which speeds encryption and decryption processes by a factor of 10 over software, according to Sun, and a dedicated content load balancing blade, plus integrated switches and controllers.
New N1 and grid software, plus Open Net Environment middleware, complete the core of the N1 architecture.
Gary Barnett, principal consultant at Ovum, said: "There is frequently a battle of configurations to do different things in terms of disk caching and so on.
"So it's good to adopt the notion of a single application server which lends itself nicely to blades."
Barnett added that the next layer is to manage the blades in a consistent manner, for instance treating 20 blades as a single virtual server, so the overall announcement made good sense.
"Admin overhead is a very significant cause of cost and can cause errors. Anything that simplifies or automates the administration of large clusters is going to help," he said.
The first UK user of this system is Comic Relief, which hopes to simplify the www.rednoseday.com website infrastructure, ahead of Red Nose Day on March 14. It will add capacity and duplicate the entire webserver for disaster recovery. The site can handle 200 transactions a second.
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