Volume 3, Number 14 -- April 13, 2006

Sun Wheels and Deals to Peddle Servers

Published: April 13, 2006

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Sun Microsystems has gone to great lengths to create a competitive Opteron and Sparc server lineup in the past several years, but the company also knows that no matter how much iron you throw into a deal, no matter how much performance, some people will only buy if they think they are getting a "deal" from a vendor. And that is why Sun has a large number of promotions running on its Sun Fire line right now.

Between now and May 12, customers who are buying Sun Fire V490 and V890 machines with four or eight processors are being allowed to double up on the number of processors (and associated main memory) in these machines at no extra cost. This deal is apparently only in effect on V490 and V890 machines using the older dual-core, 1.35 GHz "Jaguar" UltraSparc-IV processor. Those buying larger Sun Fire E2900 servers and buying these Jaguar UltraSparc-IV chips are being told that they will not get to double up, but rather are able to get their E2900 servers at half price.

Sun is also offering a promotion to customers who buy the older Jaguar machines and who are trading in two vintage "Blackbird" UltraSparc-II systems an additional 20 percent discount.

Considering that the dual-core, 1.5 GHz "Panther" UltraSparc-IV+ are supposed to deliver twice the performance as the Jaguars and are supported in these three machines, you would expect Sun to wheel and deal a little to sell the older processors. It is debatable as to whether buying Jaguar chips is a good deal or not, particularly if your software prices are reckoned based core or socket counts.

Sun had shortages of the UltraSparc-IV+ parts at the end of last year and into early this year, and it could be that, despite its pronouncements to the contrary that this would be a short-term supply problem, Sun still has demand exceeding supply on the new parts. Trying to give customers the older chips at half price is one way to balance out that supply-demand curve. Alternatively, Sun may simply be trying to blow out old Jaguar-based Sun Fire board inventories.

These trade-in deals run until May 12.

Sun has also extended until June 30 a deal it announced last September in the wake of the Panther UltraSparc-IV+ launch. Under that deal, which was supposed to expire at the end of March, customers with Sun Fire 3800 and 4810 midrange machines (which are based on the "Cheetah" UltraSparc-III processors that date from 2001) can get a 30 percent trade-up allowance, good toward the purchase of a Sun Fire E2900 or E4900 server. For moving from a Sun Fire 3800 to an E4900, customers could save as much as $40,000. Customers with Sun Fire 4800 and 6800 machines, also based on UltraSparc-IIIs, can move to the faster 1.5 GHz UltraSparc-IV+ chips and get a chassis upgrade and receive a 35 percent trade-in allowance, which can result in savings as high as $60,000.


Sun Goes on the Offensive with Server Deals

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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