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Salesforce.com pulls plug on Sun's flagship Unix servers

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Exclusive Salesforce.com is chucking out the last of it Sun Microsystems' Sun Fire servers this week, ending one of Sun's most bragged about relationships.

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) pioneer told The Reg that the last of its Sun Fire E25Ks are leaving two massive US-based global data centers, reflecting a shift to standardize on Sun's low-cost, commodity rival Dell.

The move comes as Salesforce.com prepares to bring up a new data center in Singapore to serve its SaaS platform, which now supports 43,600 customers. The center is based entirely on Dell from the start, while the older centers are being migrated.

Chief executive Marc Benioff told us Salesforce.com had picked Dell because it offered the "highest quality/lowest cost" ratio. He declared: "The Sun has set at Salesforce."

"Our data centers have already absorbed 100s [sic] of Dell servers, and our new Singapore data center will be 100 per cent Dell. There is nothing better than Dell."

It's a blow to Sun who's been trying to position its Sparc and UltraSPARC systems as the natural choice for SaaS and Web 2.0 service providers. According to Sun, its servers combine scalability and performance with the ability to grow as companies attract more and more users. Sun would also like you to pay for its services to maintain the systems, something that notches up over time.

The big rival to Sun's massively engineered and supported UltraSPARC boxes running Solaris are the lower-priced Dell boxes running Linux.

Benioff did not say what Dell servers or operating system Salesforce.com will run, citing competitive reasons. It's likely, though, Salesforce.com is running Linux.

The E25Ks are understood to have been introduced as part of a massive Salesforce data-center update that followed a service outage in December 2005 that upset customers and brought the company some bad publicity.

Sun's Chairman Scott McNealy loved to point to Salesforce's embrace of Sun. He urged that this positioned Sun at the head of the continued internet build out. In addition, he would brag that Sun was a huge Salesforce.com customer. "If you go to the eBay web site, you see 'Powered by Sun'. SalesForce.com runs on Sun," McNealy said a couple years back. Now, neither is true. ®

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