Sun has revamped its midrange server products and will offer new services to try to capitalise on its expanding enterprise resource planning application business.
Sun claimed at an analysts' conference in Brussels this week that system sales to companies planning to implement SAP, Baan, Peoplesoft, and Oracle ERP packages had quadrupled over the past year, leaving it with a significant share of this $10 billion market.
Later in the year, Sun plans to launch software for all its midrange servers to add what it calls data centre functionality - dynamic reconfiguration and alternate pathing features that enable components such as power, I/O boards and processors to be changed while the system continues to run.
?Our low end workgroup server has more availability and scalability features than Hewlett Packard?s high end. No other vendor can offer these capabilities on this kind of system range,? said Masood Jabbar, vice president of the computer systems division.
But EJ Bodnar, Hewlett Packard?s competitive programme manager, said the announcement was no more than a box swap offer to users and that HP remained significantly ahead in the ERP market with 4,000 customers to Sun?s 1,000.
?These features do not consider availability in the overall system environment. They make a lot of claims but we give users a 99.95 per cent uptime guarantee - why doesn?t Sun put its money where its mouth is?? he commented.
Four new server models will replace existing products. All run the new Sparc 336MHz processor and Gigaplane 100MHz system bus interconnect between processors, as well as new Fibre Channel storage connectivity.
The 3500 comes with up to eight processors and is targeted to compete with high end Windows NT servers. The 4500 is a compact 14-processor server while the 5500 and 6500 come in a cabinet-style frame with up to 500Gbytes of internal storage capacity. The 6500 runs up to 30 processors.
?Sun?s emergence as a top tier ERP platform in 1997 will be further enhanced by these initiatives. This success will help solidify Sun?s position in the Unix server market,? commented Robert Dorin, senior analyst at the Aberdeen Group.
Analysts still question Sun?s services capacity - chief executive Scott McNealy admitted that Sun as yet lacked sufficient sales and service coverage to compete for business in all industry sectors and geographical regions.
However, he said the company would continue to use partners for implementation and systems integration services and was rapidly growing its systems engineering and sales staff.
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