Sun has finally launched its blade server architecture, backed up by management software that will tie separate blades together as needed.
It has also invited third parties to develop blades on an open architecture that already encompasses x86 and Linux as well as Solaris and Sparc.
"I think of it as a big webtone switch," said Scott McNealy, chief executive of Sun. "We have partners building other blades for us, including hardware Secure Sockets Layer acceleration and load balancing blades."
Simon Welch, marketing director at reseller Clarity, welcomed the announcements.
"It's a bit of a milestone. It looks like Sun is clearing out the residue of the past few years and moving back up the scale," he said.
Welch added that the blades would be attractive to non-Sun resellers.
"It opens up an opportunity for guys who've been selling Compaq servers," he said.
The vendor will also change the way it introduces major products, launching them once a quarter rather than as and when they are ready.
"Quarterly announcements are a good thing," said Welch. "It's difficult to keep up with what all the vendors are doing if you're in the channel.
"This way, you get a more strategic view. Sun came in for criticism for not bringing blades to the market earlier, but now it's apparent that it was waiting to get the N1 Management environment ready.
"Without the software, you have a bunch of servers, and the only benefit is space and energy savings. Management makes a lot of sense."
The new management software allows administrators to configure separateblades to work together as a distributed computer.
McNealy unfavourably compared IBM Global Services to his company's iForce centres, which allow resellers and their customers to build proof-of-concept projects before installing them for customers.
The vendor also announced a new rack-mounted server, the 12-way V1280, which will support the BBC's Red Nose Day website.
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