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Sun cuts prices of UltraSPARC II servers

Europe gets 5% slash, US prices drop by up to 16%

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Sun Microsystems has announced price cuts for its older mid-range Unix servers as it begins rolling out kit based on its faster UltraSPARC III microprocessors.

Prices on mid-range UltraSPARC II systems, including the Enterprise 3500, 4500, 5500 6500 machines, has been cut by between 8 to 16 per cent. Top of the range E10000 servers will now cost 16 per cent less.

Additionally, the prices of Capacity On Demand (COD) Sun Enterprise 10000 systems and Right-to-Use licenses were reduced by up to 28 per cent.

Sun played down the significance of the announcement which it said was not a response to a slowdown in the server market nor increased competition from rivals like IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard who have recently revamped their product lines.

Ian Meakin, a product manager at Sun, said it was "routine" for Sun to announce small price cuts with the introduction of newer technology.

Because of currency fluctuations and other factors, Meakin said that Sun's European customers might see price cuts of only around 5 per cent for its kit.

Sun has previously come under fire for charging more to Europeans than Americans but Meakin said its pricing policy was consistent with that of the industry and reflected costs like taxes and shipping charges, to say nothing of support.

"If customers want to buy from the US and arrange their own transport, delivery, installation and support, there's nothing to stop them doing that," said Meakin.

This isn't an approach he recommends however. "Servers can weigh up to half a ton and need specialist handling," said Meakin.

Sun last month introduced mid-range servers based on UltraSPARC III, but the release of a replacement for the E10000 will not come until autumn. Despite Sun's assertions to the contrary, early UltraSPARC III systems have been slow to come to the market in volume.

While waiting for machines based on newer technology to become more widely available Sun's customers might hold off buying systems. The price cuts could be seen as a means of stimulating demand for UltraSPARC II-based technology in the transition period where Sun's production is moving over to UltraSPARC III. ®

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