You have to hand it to Sun Microsystems for one thing: there's no lack of vision when it comes to the future of the data center. The only question is whether it's a vision that can generate a following.
Much of what the company calls the "Datacenter of the Future" (DCoF) initiative will revolved around the Ops Center management stack and the xVM platform, the Solaris-based Xen-based hypervisor that the company hopes will take over the x86 market.
Phase I of the plan is already in motion with the release of the OpenSolaris Developer Preview containing the xVM engine, which was recently shown running on an IBM System z mainframe. IBM has endorsed the xVM initiative, a move that should open up a broad new customer base for Sun.
But that doesn't mean Sun is ready to cede the hardware side of the fence. The company recently announced a pair of new UltraSparc T2 servers and a new Sun Blade with an eye toward high-density, high-performance environments with multiple Web and application tiers.
The company is also turning to old friends to help shore up some of its own weak spots. SAS is working with Sun to develop an Enterprise Intelligence Platform designed to provide for open-source Solaris environments with an enterprise-wise analytic architecture that bolsters continuity, compliance and security.
And if all that's not enough, Sun intends to keep digging, literally, for new ways to keep the datacenter cool. The company has signed on to a project to install its Blackbox datacenter into a Japanese coal mine, where air-conditioning is not needed and ground water provides a ready coolant. The facility is expected to hold up to 30,000 cores.
Say what you will about Sun's technology or its business model, but it is one of the few companies designing products with the full data center in mind. It's now up to the company to transfer its vision to the real world.