SUMMARY: helping someone decide which Sun Server to buy

From: Eliezer Ramm <>
Date: Mon Feb 11 2002 - 09:57:09 EST
As usual the answer is "use the right tool for the job"

it is hard to put together the different answers I got into the classic
summary format. here is my best shot.

when choosing from various Sun configurations:

- one thing is to consider are whether the Servers will be sitting (server
room, CoLo, or in close proximity to where the admin is seated)
- servers that don't have the UIII chip should not be considered except on
the (very) low end where the X1 has many advantages.
- specs for investigation and comparison are available at and
- if you don't need a NEBS-Certified Server, don't pay for one.
- it may be cheaper to get additional storage and memory from third party

Sun Vs. x86:

 - Sheer CPU power (where Intel beats Sun hands down) matters in maybe
single processor scientific calculation (games, mostly?), whereas business
application's bottlenecks usually are in the I/O bandwidth
cpu<->memory<->drives. I/O Sun can handle tons. So it's great for file
sharing (for Windows, also), web serving, database, etc. But if your
application really is mostly CPU intensive, go Intel and high-end P-III, not
P4.[henrik huhtinen ]
- most people said that for small apps like DNS,Web,Mail would be best off
using Linux/X86 than a Sun box
- For 90% of the applications out there, you'd be better off getting a Linux
box or two - 
it'd be cheaper, faster, and easier to use. [Nicholas Tang]
- for applications that can scale horizontally, the x86s
are most cost effective, and for ones that scale more vertically, the
Suns are usually the best choice. [Frank Smith]

Advantages of Sun [Martin Schmitt]

- Hardware and OS from the same manufacturer - also a support issue - the 
  hardware guys can't blame it on the OS and vice versa
- Rock solid software RAID, if you're into this kind of thing
- Linux too much of a moving target
- All PC servers suck. Suns got OBP and LOM, which are most certainly the
  greatest thing since sliced bread.
It they want cheap huge hardware with blinking lights, give them Compaq, if 
they just want the job done, give them Sun.

finally Paul Galjan submitted this matrix:

Netra X1:  NIS servers and the like.  Apps that don't hit the disk.

Netra T1:  Mail relays, FTP servers and the like.  Apps that hit the disk,
but don't require a whole lot of SETI-like processing

E220/420: Scientific apps, databases, etc.  Stuff you might want a little
scalability for.

for another take on the subject see "[SUMMARY] sparc-intel comparison"

So it seems that the bottom line is that unless the company has a specific
need or app that requires Sparc/Solaris then there is no need to push Sun
over x86. So I guess I can recommend an x86 OS for projects and still remain
a respectable member of this community :)


Original Question:
Hi Gurus !

part of my job is helping clients choose which hardware to purchase.

what is the difference (besides obvious things like the amount of Ecache)
between the Sparc IIi chip found on a Netra T1 and the Sparc II chip found
on a Sun Enterprise 420R ?

do both the Netra and the 420r use a PCI bus ?

does anyone one know of a good site that can help a potential buyer make a
decision on which of the Sun servers to buy ? I know this depends on the
app, amt of users, and a zillion other details that are unique to each
client and situation, but some rules of thumb would be helpful. 

a recent post here came up pretty much blank for Solaris benchmark tools so
how do you guys test and compare between systems when doing capacity
planning ? specweb ? compiling emacs w/ gcc ?

while we are at it does anyone know of any documents that can help explain
the advantages of Sparc/Solaris to decision makers ? how do you explain that
Linux, despite the popularity and the fact that it's a *nix it not the same
? or why a faster x86 CPU speed does not always mean a faster computer

I am not trying to start a rant or religious war here, but budgets are tight
these days and many decision makers are well informed about choices and are
cost conscious, and it is hard to get these people go for a Sun solution.

will summarize !
sunmanagers mailing list
Received on Mon Feb 11 10:23:48 2002

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