20 September 2002 Unix systems vendor Sun Microsystems has taken the wraps off its long-expected push into utility computing.
Challenging rival initiatives from Hewlett-Packard with its Utility Datacenter and IBM’s Eliza project, Sun’s N1 architecture promises organisations the means of pooling their server and storage resources and allocating capacity dynamically as and where it is needed.
Like its competitors, the company is arguing that the approach will address many of the inefficiencies found in current data centres. N1, said Sun, will lift average systems utilisation levels from a typical 15%-20% at best today to more than 80%. The consolidation will also enable an organisation to raise the number of servers that each systems administrator can manage from 30 to more than 500, claims Sun.
But the technology will not be immediately available. Sun intends to release N1 in multiple phases. By the end of this calendar year it will release virtualisation software that will provide a means of viewing and administering the pooled resources as a single system.
To kick start that effort, the company announced yesterday that it was acquiring Pirus Networks, an Acton, Massachusetts-based specialist in storage area network (SAN) virtualisation.
Executive vice president Mark Canepa said that Sun will extend much of the software it has developed for internal resource management of its multi-processor systems to also handle external, networked systems and storage as well. Central to that will be the company’s Dynamic Reconfiguration workload software, Resource Manager and Sun Cluster software.
By the middle of next year, Sun plans to add ‘provisioning’ software, the means of mapping resources – systems, storage, network capacity and application and web server software – to individual applications. That will be followed by products for automating the policies that govern resource allocation.
Initially Sun will support N1 for configurations of its Blade systems, but later it will extend N1 to manage other vendors’ Unix servers, Windows servers and a variety of standards-based storage devices.
Infoconomy briefing room: Utility computing