Friday Aug 14, 2009

Math -- Powered by Sun


Founded in 1861, the University of Washington has one of the leading mathematics research departments in the United States. Several years ago, William Stein, an associate professor of mathematics at UW, collaborated with more than 150 mathematicians around the world to build Sage, an open-source computational software program. Sage can be used to solve a wide range of mathematical problems including algebra, calculus, number theory, numerical computation and more.

Stein recently looked to expand the computational capabilities of Sage, but felt limited by the hardware the department was using to run the software. Additionally, the department wanted to increase the overall performance of Sage while also making the automated testing of the platform faster and easier. Last November, the department began evaluating new server solutions to support Sage and eventually selected a new system from Sun.

Sun Customer University of Washington
(Image courtesy: University of Washington
The solution included four Sun Fire X4450 servers, powered by 2.6 Ghz Six-Core Intel Xeon processors, and one Sun Fire X4540 server that runs the OpenSolaris Operating System. The department received SunSpectrum Silver support in addition to support from the Sun market development organization during the solution’s implementation.

Since deploying the Sun solution in December, the department has gained a huge increase in computing power that has significantly sped the automated testing of Sage. Stein reports that with the Sun X4450, it only takes three minutes to run the standard Sage test suite, a task that previously took at least an hour. Stein noted that “our previous infrastructure was fine, but the entire thing was only about one-third the capacity of a single Sun X4450 server.” He said Sage runs computations much faster and stated: “The whole way I do mathematical calculations using Sage is so much different now that I have this hardware.”

Check out the complete details here.

Monday Jul 27, 2009

French broadcaster builds fast, energy-efficient Web portal on Sun GlassFish Platform


RTL France is a radio broadcaster that owns some of the country's most popular stations. Thanks to the widespread adoption of broadband Internet, RTL France is seeing online listening figures grow across several of its stations. Because of this growth, RTL France decided it needed to completely rebuild its Windows-based portal and ASP.NET-based applications to support a larger audience with new services.

RTL France aimed for a solution that would increase reliability and scalability while also building an infrastructure that would be easier to manage, more cost-effective, and more energy-efficient. RTL France needed to replace all network hardware, acquire space at a hosting center, configure transit and peering connections, set up storage area network connections and consolidate separate databases into a centrally managed one. RTL France also needed an application server, and was only interested in open-source solutions that would be highly reliable in a production environment.


Sun Customer RTL France

(Image courtesy: RTL France )
RTL France evaluated several different technologies, and ultimately chose Sun's GlassFish Enterprise Server. To deploy the solution RTL France needed to virtualize its servers and chose VMware ESX software running on Sun Fire X4600 Servers. RTL France also added a Sun Fire T1000 Server to test applications prior to deployment and two Sun Fire T2000 Servers to run the applications in the production environment.

The servers are powered by UltraSPARC T1 processors with CoolThreads technology and run the Solaris 10 Operating System. Sun Fire X4100 and X4100 M2 Servers with AMD Opteron processors are used for batch and other back-end processing. Sun StorageTek QFS Software is used for sharing static file across hosts, and the entire solution is backed by SunSpectrum Platinum Support.

RTL France is pleased with the new solution's performance. Sebastien Thomas, Network and System Manager of RTL France praised the GlassFish solution saying, “Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server delivers a Web infrastructure that can scale easily with demand.” He summarized the value of the Sun solution by saying: “With Sun, we get stability, confidence, and savings in power, costs and time.

Check out the complete details here.

Sunday Jul 12, 2009

Sun Speeds Up Daytona 500!!!

customer

International Speedway Corporation (ISC), based in Daytona Beach, Florida, manages about 66 motorsports activities at its facilities each year, including the Daytona 500, Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Cup Series, and Camping World Truck Series. ISC sells approximately 100,000 tickets for each event along with hundreds of thousands of souvenirs and concessions. ISC relies on IT from multiple vendors to support its ticketing system, retail system, 54 interactive Web sites and an ERP system. Sun Customer ISC
A third-party vendor hosted ISC's systems until 2006, when after several years of steady 10-15% growth, ISC started to experience availability issues as end users experienced inconsistent levels of system performance. ISC decided to build its own datacenter and engage a company to remotely manage its mission-critical systems. ISC chose Sun Remote Operations Management because of its in-depth expertise in numerous technologies, detailed problem-resolution policies, and comprehensive services.

Throughout 2007, Sun worked with ISC to restructure its architecture and set up the new datacenter. All three mission-critical systems include a mix of old and new technologies that run on the Solaris 10 Operating System. The ticketing system, which includes an application tier of three Sun Fire T2000 servers running 18 virtual environments and a clustered database tier of two Sun Fire V490 servers and two Sun Fire T2000 servers, makes use of Solaris Cluster 3.2 software. To speed performance, the ticketing system interoperates with a multi-tiered storage area network built with Sun Storage Archive Manager software 4.6, two Sun StorakeTek 6540 arrays, and one Sun StorEdge 6130 array. The ERP system runs on two clustered Sun Fire V490 servers.

The redesigned architecture supports ISC's varying levels of system traffic better, and Sun Managed Services provides daily reports that have helped ISC reduce their administrative costs. Craig Neeb, Chief Information Officer at ISC said: “Last year was our best year for service levels. We hit 99.9%. Sun Managed Services exceeded our expectations. They are always two steps ahead of us. There have been many times where Sun personnel found a problem before it affected the end user's experience. Sun then resolved it and let us know what happened. That's my dream world right there. That's what I was looking for.”

Check out the complete details here.

Sunday Jul 05, 2009

ZDNet Review: "X4275 is an excellent all-rounder"


ZDNet's Craig Simms evaluated Sun's newest 2RU Nehalem-based Sun Fire X4275 server, focusing his evaluation on the design, architecture and performance aspects of the unit he tested.

The reviewer began with a rundown of hardware design features and system specifications. Specifically, he called out the two Xeon E5540 "Gainestown" CPUs with four physical cores each.

"With a Hyperthreading-aware OS, though, it presents itself as capable of handling 16 threads, resulting in a task manager likely to create a bit of envy," he noted. Craig also highlighted the vast configuration, OS and service options available for the server.

Overall, Craig was quite pleased with the X4275. His verdict: "Sun Microsystem's Sun Fire X4275 is an excellent all-rounder that can be custom-specced to suit most small-to-medium-business needs. Whether you need to apply yourself with some dense storage or just need the compute power of 16 cores, its flexibility is commendable."
Sun Fire X4275 Server

Thursday Jul 02, 2009

TravelMuse Saves $200,000 in Licensing and Cuts Hosting Costs by 50% with Sun Solution


TravelMuse.com is a Web site dedicated to providing inspiration and end-to-end tools for planning vacations. Visitors can book reservations and use collaboration tools to make plans with others. In 2007, looking to bring their product to market, TravelMuse began the search for a high-performance IT architecture that was highly available, affordable and flexible while supporting rapid growth, interacting with third-party services, and supporting content in multiple formats.
Sun Customer TravelMuse
TravelMuse wanted to use open-source software supported by a third party. The company decided to build its architecture with Sun technologies which initially included Sun servers, the Solaris 10 Operating System, GlassFish Enterprise Server Version 2, MySQL 5.0 Community Server, and Java EE 5. TravelMuse simplified its IT administration by using products from a single vendor while also taking advantage of the synergies that exist between Sun products.

TravelMuse engaged NaviSite to host its hardware architecture and set up five virtual servers with Solaris containers on a Sun Blade 8000 Modular System with Sun Blade X8400 server modules. TravelMuse also recently switched from its initial third-party database administrator to the MySQL Enterprise Platinum Edition with support services from Sun, a move that reduced DBA support costs by two-thirds.

TravelMuse's choice of an open-source software solution saves the company an estimated $200,000 in licensing costs each year, and reduces its hosting expenses by 50% with Solaris Containers. The infrastructure has maintained 99.9% availability while growing fivefold over the last six months. “The Solaris 10 OS and GlassFish Enterprise Server are very stable systems that basically don't go down,” says Cyril Bouteille, vice president of engineering at TravelMuse. “If any issue does occur, the Solaris 10 OS provides more troubleshooting tools than its competitors.”

Check out the complete details here.

Friday Jun 26, 2009

Sun solutions help German systems vendor deliver affordable cloud computing


Merkl IT was founded in 2007 as a traditional systems vendor offering IT services, hardware, software and support. The Munich-based systems vendor decided to pursue an idea for a cloud computing solution, which lead to the development of Virtual BackOffice, the company's core product.

Sun Customer Merkl IT
(Image courtesy: Merkl IT)
Virtual BackOffice provides businesses with access to a virtual IT infrastructure that is highly scalable, flexible, affordable, and available and gives them access to their data and applications from almost any location with very little required on-site hardware. To provide the scalability and fast response time needed to deploy Virtual BackOffice, Merkl IT needed new hardware and chose several Sun products for its solution.

For storage, Merkl IT uses Sun Storage Tek 2510 arrays with redundant iSCSI RAID controllers and 1 Gb/sec throughput. The SMI-S-compliant Sun StorageTek Common Array Manager software simplifies 2510 array storage management and allows Merkl IT to accelerate deployment and improve utilization. Citing Sun's “green IT” focus, Merkl IT chose Sun Blade 6000 servers with energy-saving features to virtualize and host Windows servers and desktops running Virtual BackOffice.

Merkl IT offers more than just hosting services, it also provides its customers with Sun Ray Thin Clients and software including Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Sun Secure Global Desktop software. Merkl IT stays one step ahead of the major cloud computing providers by integrating its customers' local servers and network infrastructure into Virtual BackOffice.

Julian Merkl, co-founder and managing director of Merkl IT notes “the Sun infrastructure allows us to operate the cloud-computing solution in an energy-efficient and stable manner, saving our customers money and helping the environment.”

Check out the complete details here.

Friday Jun 19, 2009

UNC Chapel Hill Enhances Biomedical Research with Sun HPC System


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the nation's first state university, and a recognized leader in biomedical research. Many of the university's health sciences groups use high-speed applications for modeling and simulation, but wanted dedicated high-performance computing system resources to speed research and make faster progress.

In 2007, funding for a high-performance biomedical image analysis system was approved for seven UNC-CH research groups. Having used Sun products for more than 20 years, UNC-CH knew Sun could provide a highly-customized solution and better support for image-intensive applications and was interested in the company's recent HPC innovations.
Sun customer UNC Chapel Hill
(Image courtesy: UNC Chapel Hill)
Sun and UNC-CH worked together to design the grid-based HPC architecture throughout 2007, and began testing configurations in 2008. With the Sun Customer Ready Program, UNC-CH was able to cut hardware start-up time from six months to four weeks because the entire system had been built, configured, and tested in a Sun facility before shipment.

The UNC-CH grid was introduced to the research community in February 2009 and consists of 17 Sun Fire X4600 M2 Servers, each with sixteen 2.8GHz AMD Opteron processors. An additional X4600 M2 was installed as a backup, while another was installed as a file server attached to a Sun StorageTek 6140 array and a Sun StorageTek SL500 modular library system. The grid also includes 45 Sun Ultra 40 M2 Workstations.

“Users tell us how excited they are to be able to do things a hundred times faster than before,” said Russell M. Taylor II, research professor at University of North Carolina. “Implementing a high-performance computing solution from Sun Microsystems gave us the ability to move biomedical research forward at a faster pace.”

Check out the complete details here.

Friday Jun 12, 2009

Italian medical foundation boosts health of its storage system with Sun solution


The Gabriele Monasterio Foundation was founded in Pisa, Italy in 2007. The foundation assists doctors and researchers across Italy who are performing cutting-edge medical research, and provides IT systems to help them with their work. Recently, the foundation realized the existing storage environment for image data was quickly reaching its limitations with no way to increase capacity.

The foundation wanted to implement a new storage infrastructure that offered greater capacity while keeping management simple. It also aimed to reduce energy consumption and costs in support of its efforts to be recognized as an environmentally friendly organization. The foundation chose Sun over other leading vendors, HP and IBM, with a solution that was 40% less expensive than the alternatives.

The new Sun storage environment is based on the Sun Fire X4150 and Sun Fire X4500 servers, which are both running the Solaris 10 Operating System. The foundation switched its core database from a PostgreSQL to MySQL 5.0, and bought a series of Sun Ultra 24 workstations and a Sun Fire X2100 M2 server for its research laboratories. A local Sun partner supported the installation, and Sun Services provided a week-long training course so the IT team had the skills necessary to take full advantage of the new technology.

Paolo Marcheschi, manager of the Operating Unit of Computer Science Technologies at the Gabriele Monasterio Foundation says “We believe that the Solaris Operating System is demonstrably ahead with respect to Linux. Plus, the combination of Solaris ZFS and Solaris Containers for virtualization has given us a simple-to-manage and scalable storage environment to support the foundation long-term.”

Check out the complete details here.

Friday May 15, 2009

hi5 slashes storage costs and scales for growth with Sun solution


hi5 Networks, based in San Francisco, California, is one of the world's largest social networks with more than 80 million registered users in 200 countries. In fact, hi5 earned the distinction of being the fastest growing social network in the world when it doubled its user base in 2008, growing from 28 million to more than 56 million and counting.

The explosive growth rate proved to be a challenge, particularly because hi5 manages so much data – about 400TB and growing. To continue providing the best service to its users, hi5 needed to ensure its systems were highly available and reliable, and at the end of 2008, hi5 realized that it urgently needed to expand its storage capacity to keep up with its rapid growth.
Sun Customer hi5 Networks
(Logo courtesy: hi5 Networks)
hi5 chose the hybrid Sun Fire X4540 server in conjunction with the Solaris 10 Operating System as its system solution. The Sun Fire X4540 is a product known for its ability to run high-bandwidth applications while providing speedy access to storage and unparalleled storage density in a 4U rack space. hi5 is so pleased with the performance of the Sun Fire X4540 servers, that it plans to purchase 10 more.

hi5 said when it came to evaluating price for performance, there was no better solution than Sun. Dan Peterson, vice president of technical operations at hi5 notes that there is no licensing fee and says “Before it was costing us about $5,000 per terabyte to store data versus about $750 per terabyte now.” Peterson also appreciates the ability to now keep a tight reign on his budget by purchasing Sun storage in 48TB chunks rather than having to buy huge storage systems at four of five times the price.

Check out the complete details here.

Friday May 08, 2009

Sun solution helps myToys.de meet demand


Since its launch in 1999, Internet mail-order business myToys.de has grown by 30% to 40% each year. myToys.de sells its merchandise at stationary branch offices, through a mail-order catalog, and on its Web site, which is where the company receives the majority of its orders.

Until recently, myToys.de ran with the help of a classic PC infrastructure, which required many individual devices to be administered, serviced, and updated constantly. Last year as the business growth put additional strain on the customer service team - particularly during the peak periods of Christmas and Easter - Olaf Brehmer, head of System Administration at myToys.de decided it was time to find a replacement solution.
Sun Customer myToys.de

(Logo courtesy: myToys.de)
The solution focused on Sun VDI Software, and was based on the Sun StorageTek 6450 array, seven Sun Fire X4100 servers, a Sun Fire T2000 server, 65 Sun Ray 2 thin clients, and the Solaris 10 Operating System. Deployment was fast and successful, as the implementation started at the end of August, leaving no time for a proof of concept before the busy run up to Christmas began.

With the new system in place, employees at myToys.de now have the flexibility to work at their own desk, another office, or at home while still having access to all of their applications and documents. Olaf Brehmer reports that "thanks to our new Sun Ray technology and Sun VDI deployment, we can scale our business successfully to meet seasonal demand while reducing the overall cost of administration."

Check out the complete details here.

Wednesday Apr 29, 2009

Sun Fire X2270 Server Review in IT Pro


Sun Fire X2270 Server

IT Pro's Dave Mitchell reviewed the Sun Fire X2270, the new Intel Xeon 5500 processor based server, giving it a four out of six star rating and noting Sun's support for the processor ahead of HP and IBM. Dave said, "Sun's new 1U rack server delivers a good specification for the price, which includes Intel's latest Xeon 5500 processors and a good helping of DDR3 memory."

Dave noted that the "X2270 targets a wide range of applications and projects such as HPC and web services," as well as "some other interesting storage possibilities for this server as the embedded ICH10R controller provides six SATA channels."

The secure web interface and remote server management were highlighted as positive features in the review, with Dave saying the interface was "easy to use and opens with a status report on all critical components and their status," and the remote management was called "up with the best as the X2270 comes with Sun's embedded ILOM (integrated lights out management)."

In conclusion, Dave's review was positive for overall value and it highlighted X2270 as a strong product offering ahead of HP and IBM.

Tuesday Apr 14, 2009

Now Available: Sun's Open Network Systems Powered by Nehalem


Today we announced the latest Open Network Systems from Sun.

John's perspective:

"Today's IT customer is looking for three things - speed, simplicity and savings. With Sun's Open Network Systems approach, we're integrating our networking advancements, our system expertise, and our core IP and innovative designs to transform commodity components into entirely new platforms with breakthrough application performance, efficiency and scale," said John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems. "Our new x64 systems with breakthrough networking technologies, advanced thermal management, open software stacks and Open Storage enhancements will give the datacenter an extreme makeover, revealing new efficiencies and maximizing IT investment."

Dimitrios Dovas, Director of Product Management, x64 Volume Systems, joined me to talk about Sun's latest Open Network Systems products powered by Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series (aka Nehalem). Listen to the short segment below for the highlights.

Sun Fire X4170 Server

Wednesday Apr 01, 2009

Sun Fire X4440 Server Gets PC Pro's Recommendation


Sun Fire X4440 Server
Sun Fire X4440 Server
As a follow up to his X4140 review last month, PC Pro's Dave Mitchell tested the larger X4440, similarly rating the unit 5 out of 6 stars and bestowing it the publications "Recommended" rating. Overall he stated, "The one and only 2U quad Opteron 8300 server on the market delivers a superb blend of features and value that's more than a match for the competition."

Dave provided a comprehensive look at the 2U Opteron-based system, with an emphasis on price, features, and architecture. "As we found with the X4140, Sun seems to offer that little bit more than everyone else. It matches the competition on storage and expansion potential, but steps out for network connections as the motherboard has four embedded Gigabit ports up for grabs," he noted.

Overall Dave is quite positive about the X4440 and concluded, "With the X4440, Sun has achieved the remarkable feat of squeezing four Opteron 8300 sockets into a low profile 2U chassis - something no other vendor has achieved. Even better is the fact that this is not at the cost of storage capacity, expansion potential or general features, as this server is more than a match for the larger 8300 equipped systems from Dell, HP and IBM."

Wednesday Mar 04, 2009

PC Pro recommends Sun Fire X4140 Server in March 09 issue review


PC Pro's Dave Mitchell took a look at the Sun Fire X4140 server, giving the unit the publication's "Recommended" rating and five out of six stars.

Overall, Dave is very positive about the server noting, "The Sun Fire X4140 is one classy 1U rack server that has more of everything than the competition and is very competitively priced."

The reviewer noted that the X4140 is "big on performance," highlighting the unit's storage subsystem and quad-core Opetrons. He also commented, "the X4140 seems to have more of everything," noting the systems power supplies, PCI-e slots and embedded Gigabit ports.

While not a comparative review, Dave makes frequent remarks about how the X4140 stacks up against similar offerings from Dell and HP. "The X4140 packs so much more into its chassis than the rest, it's extremely well built and designed and easily matches HP's ProLiant DL365 G5 on price," he concludes.
Sun Fire X4140 Server

Friday Oct 03, 2008

Computerworld praises Sun Fire X4150 server's flexibility for data center buyers


In a second review of the Sun Fire X4150 Server, MC Brown discusses its "sweet spot" for current buyers.

MC traces how purchases evolved from small add-on servers, to massive server infrastructure, and now to efficient uses of hardware through consolidation. With this in mind, MC said, "Whether the X4150 hits the sweet spot depends on your point of view, but I'm finding it really hard not to justify a machine with this flexibility to anybody who wants a decent machine."

Regarding specific features, MC complimented the X4150 by saying, "At 1U high you could fit a lot of computing power into a cabinet. With two quad-core Xeons there's plenty of CPU power, and 64GB of RAM gives you plenty of memory to play with. The 8 SAS drives are also enough for you to have a system disk, and a 5 or 6 disk RAID configuration of your choice with one or two hot spares."

MC noted that with this "wealth of potential" in options, he tried several different configurations, but his favorite was using the X4150 as a consolidation box.

Overall, MC concluded that the X4150 provides a high level of flexibility, specifically noting, "flexibility like that in the modern datacenter is a must." Using the server's variety of options, "you can choose a variety of configurations to suit your needs, and if you decide to change your mind, you can do so without changing your hardware, just redeploy it."
Sun Fire X4150 Server

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