Sun Microsystems next week will unveil three new softwarefeatures for its biggest server that should make the system
easier to manage and maintain. The E10000 server's new
capabilities will let IS administrators double the amount of
distinct workloads they run on a single system, create
scripts to reconfigure the system, and network between
workloads without going outside the system. These upgrades
will be available free to existing customers and will be
included on all new E10000 servers.
Sun will reveal that by February its 64-processor E10000
servers will support 16 domains. Domains are logical
partitions inside a single box that groups processors to
enable them to support separate workloads. The E10000 can
support only up to 16 processor boards; previously, Sun
could acknowledge up to only eight domains, because each
domain required two processor boards to enable high
availability in the data center. With the new software, each
domain requires only one processor board, so 16 domains can
be supported. Sun is offering this option because many
customers care more about running as many workloads on a
system as they can, usually for server consolidation
reasons, than they value availability. "Customers run the
gamut between those demanding nonstop systems to those who
say, 'I can always reboot,'" says Jamie Enns, Sun's data
center group product marketing manager. "It's how much it
costs and what it's worth to the business."
Early next year, customers will also be able to take
advantage of automated dynamic reconfiguration, which takes
a lot of the complexity out of the system. Before, only
expert Unix administrators could manually program changes to
the configuration of the domains; typically they had to
reconfigure a system to match system capacity to changing
application workloads, as they happen. With ADR, expert
administrators can write scripts ahead of time, based on if-
then conditions; any system operator can unleash those
scripts when necessary--to move additional processor
capacity to a Web server when a Web site is being
overwhelmed, for example.
Additionally, customers no longer have to go outside the
system, hassling with input/output channels and network
cards, to network between domains. Networking can take place
inside the system on its backplane. Besides simplicity,
customers will get better data throughput--115 Mbytes per
second--on the backplane; this also frees up the network for
all the other information it has to move. This feature is
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