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Social networking helps drive server sales

Even though virtualization can make efficient use of servers, social-networking Web sites demand a lot of storage space.

Social networking is pushing up server sales despite the increasing adoption of server-efficient virtualization technology, according to Sun Microsystems.

Virtualization squeezes more computing muscle out of fewer physical servers, so as its use becomes more widespread, it should help slow server sales.

But Richard Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, said there is no shortage of demand for hardware because of data-heavy applications such as social-networking Web sites demanding more storage space, resulting in server counts "going through the roof."

Sun has been bringing virtualization into its business for the past few years to help it build revenue, after struggling in the post-dot-com crash period.

But the marrying of virtual and physical tools is causing "real havoc" in data centers with ad hoc, internally developed management tools not doing the job effectively, according to Green.

"The whole idea of any innovation (such as virtualization) is to give you the tools to throw at a set of problems," he said. "But with that comes increasing complexity."

Sun said it will launch an open-source virtualization management tool this December, which will be able to run on any operating system.

Earlier this month Sun's chief executive, Jonathan Schwartz, announced the company would be merging its server and storage teams into a converged system team, with the aim of putting a stronger focus on virtualization.

Gemma Simpson of reported from London.