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Sun aims for top-to-bottom virtualization management

Sun Microsystems unveiled a new solution this week designed to consolidate and virtualize an SAP environment and the applications around it. And that’s only the beginning.

The new N1 Advanced Architecture for SAP Solutions separates what Sun calls the "SAP landscape" from the underlying infrastructure. The resulting application virtualization allows for dynamic changes to the SAP environment—things like changing where applications reside and introducing and removing hardware on the fly.

Sun and SAP collaborated on the new solution, which is an extension of Sun's N1 service provisioning system. N1 is a portfolio of products for automating servers and application life-cycle management, and for managing grid services across heterogeneous environments. This product is tailored for SAP, but Sun sees the underlying capability in a larger context.

"The problems we're looking at here are not necessarily specific to SAP," Jim Sangster, director of marketing for Sun's N1 and availability software products. "They are ubiquitous problems that we see in large-scale deployments of systems of any kind."

In the long term, Sun expects to provide top-to-bottom virtualization management within the N1 portfolio, says Dr. Gregory O. Smith, global manager for sun's SAP Competency Center.

"The real nut to crack here is the management stack, all the way down to the network, the storage, the containers, and the hypervisor layers," Smith says, "and ultimately to provide a coherent, manageable environment that allows you to put automated processes in place across a heterogeneous environment, and to manage it without having to send out an army of people to tweak the knobs."

Sun's strategy seems to be in line with current expectations about the future of the virtualization market. "As this whole market commoditizes, and it will, the decisions and choices that users have to make are focused on how they manage virtualization," says Tom Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, "and not on that low-level piece of code below the OS."

"Some of Sun's competitors talk about virtualization as though it's the end all," says Sangster. "We think of virtualization as a key enabler of the true service-level-management, dynamic IT environment. [N1 Advanced Architecture for SAP Solutions] is an example of that capability. Expect more to follow at the levels beneath as we begin incorporating them into the N1 product."

The N1 Advanced Architecture for SAP Solutions is certified for compliance with SAP Adaptive Computing for managing SAP NetWeaver applications. It provides, the company says, "a total Sun solution for SAP Adaptive Computing landscapes."

The N1 products can be downloaded for free through the Solaris Enterprise System.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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