Sun cuts server, workstation prices

Along with the price cuts, the company also beefs up its corporate storage efforts by snapping up Maxstrat.

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Stephen Shankland
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Sun Microsystems beefed up its corporate offerings this week by cutting prices on servers and workstations and snapping up Maxstrat, a high-end storage company.

The acquisition of Maxstrat is good for customers "who require absolute top-of-the-line" storage systems, said Sun spokeswoman Sheryl Ross, mentioning customers in government, financial services, and telecommunications.

Sun acquired Maxstrat "for the technology and expertise that they bring," she said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition of Maxstrat comes almost exactly a year after Sun announced a "frontal assault" on the corporate storage market. In addition, in December, Sun debuted its "StoreX" plan to bring its "write once, run anywhere" Java technology to storage software to create standardized ways to communicate with storage systems. StoreX provides ways to address storage system functions such as self-repair, management, backup, and equipment monitoring.

Maxstrat will continue to sell its products to its existing customers, even if they're Sun competitors, Ross added. Maxstrat sells storage servers that can hold up to 1.7 terabytes of data and that can connect to servers using SCSI, Fibre Channel, or the super-fast High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) standard.

Meanwhile, Sun said today it cut prices as much as 35 percent on mid-range and high-end workstations and servers.

Sun dropped the price of the Ultra 60 workstation 26 percent from $13,595 to $9,995, including a single UltraSparc II chip, 128MB of RAM, a 9GB hard drive, 4MB of memory cache, and the Creator3D graphics system. The same system with 256MB of memory and the Elite3D graphics system was cut 60 percent to $16,495.

Sun sells workstations that use its Solaris version of the Unix operating system. A chief competitor in the Unix workstation market, Silicon Graphics, though, has chosen a different route, adding models using Windows NT and Intel chips.

Although NT machines outship Unix machines, the Unix machines bring in more revenue for manufacturers and offer more capabilities for users, industry observers say. Sun is tops in the game for workstation revenue.

Sun cut workstation server prices too. The rack-mounted version of the Enterprise Server 250 was cut 20 percent to a starting price of $7,995. The Enterprise 2 server, with two 300-MHz UltraSparc II chips, was cut up to 35 percent and now begins at $16,975. The Enterprise 450, with a single 300-MHz UltraSparc II chip, was cut 13 percent from $19,735 to $17,235.