blog This might be just my general ignorance of the server market speaking, but it had been my impression that Intel’s x86 family of processors (you know, the ones found in virtually every PC today) had been gradually taking over the entire server market, particularly as the drive to blade servers and commodity cloud computing has accelerated. Commodity x86 servers, to my mind, had largely become the norm. Of course, we still see alternative platforms such as mainframes and Sun’s (now Oracle) SPARC chipsets out there in the wild, but it had been my impression that most new machines were x86. However, according to a media release issued by Oracle Australia this morning (there’s also an accompanying YouTube video), apparently SPARC is still in vogue. The media release tells us:
Defence Housing Australia (DHA) has selected Oracle’s SPARC T5 servers based on the SPARC T5, the world’s fastest microprocessor, to support a new financial management system (FMS) that will be deployed later this year. The new hardware will assist DHA in simplifying its IT systems and potentially reduce cost through the consolidation of its data centre footprint. In addition, the extreme performance expected of Oracle’s new SPARC servers with Oracle Solaris will help DHA gain faster and more reliable access to information, enabling business users to make quicker and more accurate decisions.
“We have been an Oracle SPARC customer since around 2000. We know the technology’s capabilities well and continue to be impressed by the performance and stability of new iterations. The SPARC T5s are going to help us consolidate more workloads onto fewer servers; and we are confident that we’re going to gain a significant performance boost from them; we are looking to achieve at least three to four times more performance/capacity than our SPARC T4s,” said Mike Hehir, deputy chief information officer, DHA.
“By consolidating servers, we can minimise the amount of machinery that we manage and free staff up to focus on value generating activities and new initiatives, rather than just keeping the lights on. We have already been able to increase our BI activities enabling the business to leap forward in regard to the analysis of our portfolio and providing greater business strategic recommendations to the Department of Defence as to the cost of housing and services that we provide, and where we should be moving forward in relation to providing those quality services,” said Shane Nielsen, chief information officer, DHA.
I’d honestly be interested to know where people still see the SPARC architecture being used. I know there used to be a lot of it in Australia’s financial services industry, as well as in government. What applications do people feel are better suited to SPARC, as opposed to commodity x86 platforms? Are there areas in which it just doesn’t make sense to deploy x86? What’s operating system support like on SPARC at the moment? Let me know your thoughts.