Sun's database appliance?

TRENDS & TECHNOLOGIES that affect the way government does IT

STORAGE TO SPARE: Sun's X4500 is a powerful server with 24TB of storage.

What to make of Sun Microsystems' new Sun Fire X4500, which the company debuted this month and calls a 'data server'? We took particular interest in the new release because Sun had teased the product, then code-named Thumper, at this year's FOSE tradeshow in Washington (both GCN and FOSE are owned by the same company, PostNewsweek Tech Media).

The Sun Fire X4500 is basically a four-way server with its own built-in storage array. It runs 64-bit Advanced Micro Devices Opteron CPUs and the Solaris 10 operating system, and it has a whopping 24TB of Serial ATA hard-drive space (48 drives in all), with 2GBs.

It's a unique product, but why might agencies buy one (for about $70,000 before discounts'$33,000 for 12TB)? As usual, it depends on what they do. An integrated performance monster like this would be well-suited to high-bandwidth applications such as data warehousing or high-performance computing.

Matt Reid, Sun's x64 emerging technologies business manager, told GCN, 'The high data loads associated with video surveillance activities put extreme stress on the server and storage infrastructure of the federal government. The X4500 reduces the complexity and costs associated with the growth in surveillance solutions.'

Another reason agencies might embrace a system like the X4500 is the trend toward IT consolidation. Which brings us to an intriguing potential use for the X4500 data server'as a DB2 database appliance.

In a blog entry posted this month, Jignesh Shah, who works in Sun's market development engineering group, goes into great detail about how an enterprise could combine IBM DB2 and the X4500 in a compact, rack-mountable unit.

System architects will appreciate the configuration information [read the blog entry at GCN.com, GCN.com/625], but one thing Shah points out is worth anyone noting: 'Since Sun Fire X4500 is a two-socket, dual-core AMD64-based system, it would qualify for DB2 Workgroup Edition [licensing].'

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