I had breakfast with Sun last week before the launch
of the new T-1 UltraSparc
-based servers, although I missed the official launch. We had a cosy little breakfast for industry analysts… and the 451 group
(just kidding guys, Will knows more about Unix than I will ever forget…), at a place called Nippon Tuk. I kid you not – was this a joke about the fact Sun has been undergoing some pretty serious cosmetic surgery of late?
Jonathan Schwartz was there, and it was a pleasure as ever to talk to him, but nothing he said came close to being as compelling as what his customers told me. He’ll be glad to hear it. Customers make the best evangelists
People keep asking how Sun plans to make money. Selling hot boxes might be an idea.
The comments from both customers were glowing, practically gushing.
Fiducia runs IT services for more than 900 Cooperative Banks. It plans to do less with the mainframe and more in the middle tier. It built its own benchmark because existing industry benchmarks don’t include a call to mainframe IMS.
The contact was a rather nice chap called Matthias Schorer.
Here are excepts from my notes:
Mercury load generators
“We ran our benchmarks – it was just amazing. 800 parallel requests into the single machine. 280 requests per second coming up, less than 500 millisecond response time.
The initial number of Mercury Loadrunner Machines couldn’t handle it, so we had to increase the number of load generators. “
kept crapping out before the server: that tells you something. Apparently Germans are worried about electricity cost as well, and are excited about replacing five servers with one.
“I am an apple guy, they must have taken it to apple to design its so pretty. On unpacking the box – three guys went wowee – we took a photo. It was like a Ferrari or a beautiful woman.”
So what about Strato, a web-hosting company, another T-1 alpha tester? It does so much hosting that it measures tin by the ton. I talked to Rene Weinholtz (CTO) and Carsten Zorger (PR).
The lead developer called and said have you read your email – you wont believe it – this app runs on one chip. 20 ultraspacr 2s and 14 ultrassparc 3s and it was running at 50%…
Strato represents a third of all german email traffic- and its running on one chip.
If we completely restructured – we would only need 10% of floor space and power. Less power counts twice-less air conditioning…
Forgive my stereotyping but I tend to trust Germans on engineering issues. Quality is very much in the mindset, in my experience. Germans tend not to take claims on trust. They are thorough. Their trains run on time. Their cars are usually impressive. The manufacturing industry in Germany is world-class. You could argue some German companes focus too much on quality at the expense of cost, but the brands can sustain it. I recently bought a Bosch
washing machine, and paid more for it than others I looked at. That machine is quiet… which I just what you need when you have a new baby.
All I mean is these guys seemed like they had given the servers a good going over and the experience, from out of the box to production, was positive. Fiducia, for example, looked at AMD servers from multiple vendors during its benchmarking. Buying behaviour will likely follow, but I am not going to speak for Fiducia or Strato on that score.
The T-1 is not right for all workloads. It is designed for mid tier rather than OLTP, from a cache perspective. Sun needs to emphasize the segmentation. Jaime Cardoso
has some good thoughts in that regard. Perhaps you could build a table, or online service, that recommended AMD, oldline SPARC or T-1 based on workload?
In talking to Fiducia something struck me. I was talking to service providers in both cases. They were happy campers with Tomcat and Apache, Posgres and so on, in Strato’s case with little or no interest in J2EE. The weirdest thing about Sun’s current position, is that if the market does swing comprehensively away from Java and EJB in the way some commentators now say it is, then Sun will actually be hurt less than other companies from a revenue perspective. You could take away all JES revenues tomorrow and Sun could still build a business selling servers to support Apache, Postgres, MySQL, PHP and all that. Oh wait – maybe Sun already thought of that…
German IT organisations are evidently thinking about environmental characteristics. It is not just a US phenomenon. Rene called himself a “tree hugger”. Strato’s data center is on the hot banks of the Rhine (38 degrees in summer).
I can’t promise any kind of wide sample size in the research presented above- but these anecdotes felt instructive to me. So I posted them.
Anyway – that is my report. Perhaps its not just plastic surgery.
Disclaimer: Not only Sun is a paying client but Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s President and COO, recently publicly said that I am a tier one analyst. Note to other “tier one analysts” – Solaris is open source
now. If you read blogs you’d know. Just a suggestion.