Sun Looks to Expand Service Offerings

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 06-11-2007

Sun Microsystems expects its latest service feature to be the answer for IT managers lost in their own data center.

Dubbed Inventory Channel, the latest offering of Sun Connection Services, the Santa Clara, Calif., company's line of networked service offerings, is designed to inventory a data center's assets—physical and virtual—from a single console.

The inventory management tool, a free piece of SOA (service-oriented architecture) that Sun's customers can download through a secure Web portal, will work with a range of hypervisors, including VMware's products and virtualization technology built around the open-source Xen hypervisor. It is compatible with Sun's own Solaris operating system, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hat's Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Besides inventory management, the new feature also allows Sun to update customers on various patches, software upgrades and other hardware recommendations, said Steve Wilson, a vice president of Sun's Connection services. Customers can also use the management tool to order new hardware, software or check on service contracts with Sun.

In the past two years, Sun has looked to expand its data center services offerings to its customers. However, unlike such massive services arms as IBM's Global Services unit and Hewlett-Packard's HP Services group, Sun is looking to focus on its core experience with data centers and infrastructure.

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The inventory manager is designed to work in what Wilson called the "heterogeneous" data center, which contains a mixture of Sun's own UltraSPARC-based systems as well as x86 servers the company builds using a combination of Intel and Advanced Micro Devices processors.

The management tool also has the ability to catalog non-Sun data center assets. For example, it will take note of a Dell server that is running a Linux operating system and catalog that system along with all the others. Although the current tool does not support Microsoft Windows, Wilson said Sun will include support for Windows in a later release.

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Wilson said Sun customers have been asking the company for better, easier ways to keep track of both physical and virtual assets in data centers that continue to grow at a persistent pace.

"Customers are asking us for better ways to track assets," Wilson said. "In a lot of ways, bar codes and clipboards don't cut it, especially when it's easier to move assets from place to place in a data center."

The Inventory Channel management tool is available to download starting June 11.

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