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Sun warns of voracious, collapsing data centers

McDonalds may sell them

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The RedShift-style data centers receiving the most attention these days happen to come from Google and Amazon.

Google avoids the major hardware suppliers altogether by building its own servers and networking gear. Meanwhile, Amazon shot past Sun, HP and IBM by creating a quite popular utility computing services which allows companies to run their applications and store their data on Amazon's systems.

Sun has tried and mostly failed to create a similar utility program for its customers.

In many ways, Sun miscalculated with its effort. The company went after very large customers in the financial services, oil and gas and media fields, offering them CPUs and storage on an hourly rate. As it turned out, Sun struggled to navigate red tape associated with security and compliance issues with these shared services and failed to get much traction with its grid.

Amazon, meanwhile, targeted much smaller organizations and has done well with its approach.

Is it sad that a retailer beat a visionary server vendor to the punch here? Yes.

In addition, there are an awful lot of $600m data centers going up these days. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others are building them. And yet we see no concrete details or even hear rumors of Sun's involvement with the mega data centers.

During the last build out boom, Sun found itself at the center of the whole ordeal. It owned the telecommunications companies' accounts and made tons of money as a result.

We see no evidence that Sun is doing something similar this time around.

Does this mean it's doom and gloom for the forward-thinking Sun?

Well, no.

At long last, Sun has revamped its entire server product line and looks to have some compelling future gear on the way, coming from the server, storage and software sides of the house. We tend to think that a grand reset button has been pushed at Sun, and the company now has a clean slate to work with as it goes after the RedShift business.

Sun's talk matches the realities we're seeing in the server market more closely than any other major vendor, and it has products to support the vision. Now the big question remains as to whether or not Sun can get talk and action working at the same time.

If not, who knows, we might see McDonalds beat Sun to the next major shift in computing. ®

Register editor Ashlee Vance has just pumped out a new book that's a guide to Silicon Valley. The book starts with the electronics pioneers present in the Bay Area in the early 20th century and marches up to today's heavies. Want to know where Gordon Moore eats Chinese food, how unions affected the rise of microprocessors or how Fairchild Semiconductor got its start? This is the book for you - available at Amazon US here or in the UK here.

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