Sun Microsystems to acquire Cobalt Networks

Sun Microsystems to acquire Cobalt Networks

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

Sun Microsystems Inc., a longtime maker of high-end Unix RISC systems, plans to buy Cobalt Networks Inc., whose server appliances have Intel processors.

The $2 billion stock purchase will accelerate Sun's entry into the growing market for entry-level, low-cost computers for targeted tasks such as Web serving.

Both Sun and Cobalt Networks are located in Mountain View, Calif.

John F. Leahy III, acting director of marketing for Sun's federal division in McLean, Va., said the acquisition awaits regulatory and stockholder approval. Sun officials hope to complete the deal by year's end, he said.

Varied uses

The Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Md., has a cluster of three 64-processor Sun Ultra HPC 10000 computers used in defense research [GCN, June 12, Page 1].

Other high-end federal Sun HPC 10000 server installations include a 72-processor classified Navy system in San Diego and another 64-processor classified system, both with 400-MHz processors.

Such Sun hardware until now has run the proprietary Solaris form of Unix.

Cobalt Networks, however, makes thin, rackmount server appliances that run the open-source Linux operating system [GCN, Sept. 4, Pages 28 and 33]. Separate models provide for Web serving, caching and network-attached storage.

'They're very low-cost and easy to use,' Leahy said of the appliances.

But, Leahy said, he could not forecast how the two companies' product lines would fit together.

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