The Future According to Sun

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Two significant announcements came out of Sun Microsystems this week, both offering a glimpse into what the company sees as the future of enterprise computing and networking.


The bigger headline came out on Thursday when the company unveiled the xVM virtualization platform, consisting of the Xen hypervisor and the company's Ops Center management stack, according to InformationWeek. Sun says its approach outclasses the VMware Virtual Infrastructure as a full turnkey virtualization environment, with features like the ZFS file system and a predictive self-healing tool that helps lessen the impact of failing components.


But arguably the more significant announcement from Sun came earlier in the week with the integration of the company's storage and server development teams, a move signaling the company's belief that the future belongs to converged server/storage devices like the new Sun Fire X4500. That little box, also known as the Thumper, delivers server capability plus 24 TB of storage.


These two announcements actually go hand-in-hand, since a highly virtualized environment has no real need for separate processing and storage, so why not combine them in a single box and save yourself the headache of an overly complex infrastructure?


Of course, Sun isn't the only vendor with converged server/storage on its mind. IBM just released a new BladeCenter S system, a six-bladed system with on-board storage, which in itself was a response to HP's c3000 BladeSystem.


But all three of these heavyweights might want to keep an eye on tiny Verari Systems, which recently introduced the SB5255 DataServer that combines a dual-quad Xeon 5300-based server with a pair of disk blades that top out at 24 TB of storage. GRIDToday says the company's BladeRack 2 platform then holds up to 22 DataServers delivering 176 processor cores and more than half a petabyte of storage.


So far, server/storage convergence has largely been seen as a quick solution for small businesses. But with numbers like those, it's hard to see why top-tier enterprise wouldn't be interested.