Oracle conjures Netra server from enterprise blade

The company is expanding its carrier offerings by certifying an enterprise blade server as NEBS-compliant

Oracle has expanded Sun Microsystems' Netra server lineup by pilfering a blade system from the enterprise side of Sun's server business and certifying it for use by the telecommunications industry.

The blade system, called the Netra 6000, gives Oracle a more powerful server with which to target communications providers, who are facing heavier workloads in their networks due to the proliferation of smartphones, mobile Web applications and GPS-enabled services.

"We're bringing enterprise-class scale to the carrier network," said Mark Butler, director of product management for the Netra systems, who joined Oracle after it completed its Sun acquisition in January.

The first Netra 6000 blade is the T6340, which sports two of Sun's eight-core, 1.4GHz UltraSparc T2 Plus processors and up to 256GB of memory. Carriers can fit 10 of the blades side by side in the SunBlade 6000 chassis.

It's the same server that's been sold to non-telcos as the Sun Blade T6340, but Oracle has had it certified as compliant with the NEBS (Network Equipment Building System) specification, a common requirement for use in telecom networks.

Oracle is also guaranteeing a minimum three-year lifespan for the product, another common requirement for the telco industry. Service providers take a long time to test and validate new systems -- sometimes a whole year, Butler said -- and the longer lifespan makes it more likely they'll be able to buy the exact same system if they need to add capacity in the future.

Oracle surprised some observers when it said it would keep all of Sun's server families alive. It did say it would dramatically cut the number of SKUs, or the server models offered in each family, but the Netra line has emerged relatively unscathed. Oracle lists about the same number of Netra systems on its site as did Sun before.

One server that has disappeared is the Netra 1290, but that system reached the end of its life before the Oracle deal closed, Butler said. It was a large server, 21 inches high, that housed 12 of Sun's older UltraSparc IV Plus processors, which have now been retired.

Sun encouraged Netra 1290 customers to migrate to the Netra T5440, a 4U rackmount server that is also based on UltraSparc T2 Plus processors. The Netra T6340 means they now have a blade option as well.

Oracle declined to provide a price for the new server, but Butler said customers will pay extra for the NEBS certification and longer lifespan compared with the Sun Blade T6340.

The new system is being announced in Europe on Tuesday morning at the Telemanagement Forum. Butler said further Netra 6000 systems will be announced over the next year.

IBM and Hewlett-Packard also sell NEBS-compliant servers.

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James Niccolai

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