Sun launches RFID applications

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Sun Microsystems announced 30 new network services-focused offerings and utility-type delivery models for its products and services in its latest quarterly product release, including 16 reference architectures, preventive IT 'health' services, a four-way UltraSPARC server and Java RFID software.

Robert Youngjohns, executive vice-president of global sales at Sun, said the
16 new reference architectures would improve partners' ability to bring new
offerings to market more quickly and reliably for customers. The new
reference architectures bring the total number of Sun architectures --
distilled from previous customers' deployments -- to 50, he said.

"It's about pre-integrating products in a way that makes sense," Youngjohns
said. "[Reference architectures are] not just an example of how to do
something, but a distillation of the experiences of a number of customers."

Sun had also added customer-ready services and six new areas of specialised support -- data centre, storage & data management, mobility services, security & identification, enterprise web services, and edge solutions -- that should help its 20,000 iForce partners globally and their customers develop, design and deploy the right IT infrastructure, he said.

"Partnering is not today's fashion. It's a way of doing business that is critical to us and critical to our customers," Youngjohns said.

Sam Liu, product manager at Sun's RFID business unit, said the new Sun Java System RFID software had been available in beta for some time but would now be generally released. Sun's RFID war-chest also included Sun services for RFID, Sun global RFID test centres for customer proof-of-concept demonstrations, Sun RFID reference architecture, hardware, storage and partners such as system integrators.

"Sun RFID software is the first of its kind to have automatic services provisioning and self-healing capabilities," Liu said.

Sun believed that RFID was going to replace bar coding across the retail sector and across many verticals, Liu said.

Youngjohns said that Sun was also introducing a service which used an
actuarial approach to proactively manage IT systems and infrastructure. "Sun Preventive Service ... will be a Sun subscription-based service, including on-site assessment, considering key performance indicators and remote online monitoring, [et cetera]," he said.

"We work with the risk factors to provide more up-time and potentially lower costs."

Tackling potential IT 'health' issues before they arose could save companies' IT support costs, while providing recurring revenue to Sun and partners involved, Youngjohns said.

David Yen, executive vice-president of scaleable systems at Sun, said Sun was releasing a four-way carrier-grade UltraSPARC IIIi server, dubbed the Netra 440. The four-way Netra 440 -- aimed at telecommunications companies and service providers wanting to deploy Java-based applications - was another step towards achieving Sun's vision of network computing on demand.

Sun aimed to get its servers to provide continuous throughput for end-users. With that in mind, Sun developed the 1.2GHz UltraSPARC IV processor with dual threading. Multi-threading enabled the chip to consistently devote more silicon and processing 'threads' to network tasks, he said.

"The processor [with multi-threading] is never idle. It keeps doing productive work without playing with its fingers," Yen said.

Using UltraSPARC IV processing on Solaris-based SunFire Enterprise Servers would double server performance and work out cheaper per user, he said.

Sun also released a utility pay-per-use model for its StorEdge storage systems, enhanced file management, per citizen pricing for its Java Enterprise System for SPARC and x86 systems, a Java developer promotion offering tools for Solaris bundled with AMD Opteron-based servers, new Solaris updates aimed at helping users deploy network services, Java Desktop System V2.0, and identity management products.

Jonathan Schwartz, COO at Sun, said the vendor believed that "a new era" in network computing was about to arrive. "An era in which the network is a commodity available to all, over which innovations will unlock opportunities for Sun, our partners and customers,"Schwartz said.

Fleur Doidge travelled to SunNetwork Shanghai as a guest of Sun Microsystems.

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