SUMMARY sun's price/performance against others ?

From: paul@hydres.uucp
Date: Thu Nov 05 1992 - 01:04:03 CST

My original question:
> Hello everyone I work as a system Admin person for a company in
> Oxford thats about to place an order in the next few months for
> a large replacement of Sun3 machines. What we ar going to do
> is buy three central Sparc 10 machines as servers either 41 or 52's
> and about twenty entry level machines ELC's or whatever is announced
> on November 10th ( the computer press has already mentioned some details).
> We already have thirty sparcs from SLC's to Sparc10 /41's.
> Now we have made up a propsal which will be submitted to management
> and I am sure that it will be asked of why not IBM DEC HP ?
> I am sure that Sun could come up with something to prove they are best but
> has anyone done any work out there looking at Price/ performance.
> I know the low end Sun may not match any offerings at the moment
> but next week my change all that anyway and I am looking at machines
> which do come close in pric/perf to get a good overall comparison.
> So any one out there got any ideas ? One other point we use a lot
> of third party software so any switch to other vendors would
> incur extra costs like extra copies of software courses etc
> for admin and users of new machines..

Note that I am replacing the sun3 machines and not buying them !
thanks to all who responded - I think sun would like to see the
results of this !

Points I think worth considering -all mentioned below:

1) don't worry about performnace too much Sun IBM etc are always
beating each other speed as new machines are announced

2) compatibility. I reckon it would cost me 50K (GB sterling) to
buy 'most' of the software I have on the sun - although we
could always use Xwindows and remote login to machines with
software on them to gain access to it - messy.

3) Users point of view different user interface I am NOT buying
MOTIF for my sun's thank you, and commands not available
on some machines can cause problems

4) System Admin - disaster area and although
there are people out there who do run large multi-vendor

5) OS version problems: DEC IBM are going there own way and
none of them seem to have a solid Unix development path HP
have domain to worry about too !


We always approach this by ignoring price performance
and justify purchases by looking at things
like compatibility with existing equipment, availability
of software (public domain and commercial) and
cost of administration (ie people to run the machines).

As soon as we factor in the above, SUN wins hands down.


Peter Gray Internet: pdg@cs.uow.EDU.AU
Professional Officer UUCP: ...!munnari!cs.uow.EDU.AU!pdg
Dept of Computer Science MHSnet:
University of Wollongong Phone: +61 42 213770
N.S.W. 2500 Australia Fax : +61 42 213262

   I always feel that the best response is almost always what
software do we use/need works on a particular machine. You'll
almost always have one particular machine that does it all.

   Another issue is compatibility, any new OS/architecture
increases the work load, management is often willing to pay
for new toys, but almost never for new personnel!

                                        Alain Brossard

Alain Brossard, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne,
        SIC/SII, EL-Ecublens, CH-1015 Lausanne, Suisse, +41 21 693-2211

Are these SS-10's for compute servers, or file servers? If they are for file
servers, I recommend getting a single Auspex file server. The Auspex can be
expanded to 8 ethernets, 120Gb of disk, and can support ~200 clients. Depending
on model, it can handle up to ~2000 NFS IOPS/sec.

They can reliably serve IBM, Sun, HP, or whatever. The service and support is
unmatched in the industry.

Russ Poffenberger DOMAIN:
Schlumberger Technologies ATE UUCP: {uunet,decwrl,amdahl}!sjsca4!poffen
1601 Technology Drive CIS: 72401,276
San Jose, Ca. 95110 Voice: (408)437-5254 FAX: (408)437-5246

Off the cuff:

Because AIX (IBM) sucks and HP-UX (HP) sucks even worse. Ultrix (DEC)
is not too terrible except for (a) baroque (pronounce "broke")
diskless booting procedures and (b) no shared libraries on a RISC
archetecture (can you say 5x memory and disk for same performance and
qty of programs as Sun). DEC might be real ok if they go to OSF/1
anytime soon. IBM might be talking about it but I don't think they're
close to doing it on the RS/6000 boxes. Solaris 2 (aka SVR4, SunOS 5)
sucks too but I'd still prefer it to AIX or HP-UX. SunOS 4.1.1 and
4.1.2 are fine but you'll have to get 4.1.3 (unknown but probably ok)
to use SS10s. Unfortunatly this eliminates the OS growth path. If
you can get OSF/1 today go with the DECs. Remember, you buy computers
for the software you can run on them. Fast performance running
single-tasking FORTRAN loops doesn't resemble the kind of
heterogenous, networked use you're going to give them. SPECmarks are
the only benchmarks to trust unless you can install one on your own
network running your own programs.

"To use Fred Brooks' terminology, people keep handing me programs
when I'm expecting programming products." -- Me
Brian Bartholomew - - Univ. of Florida Dept. of Mathematics

One area that I would concentrate on when making your presentation to
management is that of "it works and you can connect anything to a Sun.
but it can be difficult with some of the others." For example, the IBM
RS/6000s can be a real bear to work with, and are fine individual
workstations, but they have difficulties when it comes to the role of a

With Regards to DEC, I would be concerned about their future direction,
and also their lack of available cash in these hard times. SUN is
sitting with more than 1.2 Billion $US in reserves.

Work on the aspect of SUN's openness for connectivity, the number of
applications available (if that is an issue for you) and also that they
have the largest share of the workstation marketplace.

You will be very surprised with the announcements of the 10th of Nov. at
both ends of the performance scale. One the high end will be a "3090
knocker" and the lower end machine will compete very aggressively
against the PC environment. Price/performance will be great.

Remember though that SUN may not always be the fastest kid on the block
but their integration skills are the best in the business.

Hope this helps.


Dynamis Productivity Software Ltd.                    The Capstan Group
4105 Borden St, Victoria, B.C.        303 1005 Langley St. Victoria, BC
Canada V8X 2G4			                         Canada V8W 1V7
+1 604 479-4556 (data)		              (voice)   +1 604 385-4020	
      {}!infopac!dynamis!rogerh (Roger Harmston)

We have already gone through this process. We found that IBM RS6000 machines had the best performance but at a premium i.e. they had poorer price/performance than Sun. DEC have still to get there act together. The current DECstation cannot be considered because it will be superceded by the ALPHA machines. The ALPHA has still to be shipped in numbers so is still an unknown quantity. Both the ALPHA and DECstations are byte swapped so you will not be able to share binary data files with your Suns. HP have high performance machines the 700 series which have better price performance than Sun (especially if you can do with gray scale rather than colour - colour HP is expensive for some reason). You might want to consider the overheads of running two different Unix o/s on System management. IBM's AIX and HP's HP-UX have drawn criticism in the past. Neither company has really made a firm committment to OSF. DEC have made a big committment to OSF but need the others to pull there wait. Sun have really got their O/S sorted out although they are in the transitional stage between SunOS and Solaris. Note that the SUN-10-52 will need Solaris. Solaris will run on Intel PC's whcih is something to consider. In short at this point in time Sun are able to offer machines with good price/perf ratios and good O/S support. Hold on 'till the new machines are announced this month. The only thing to worry about is the transition between SunOS and Solaris.

_______________________________________________________________________________ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Garrett | (Internet) University of Manchester | +44 (0)477-71321 x245 (Phone) Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories | +44 (0)477-71618 (FAX) Jodrell Bank | 36149 JODREL G (Telex) Macclesfield | Cheshire SK11 9DL | U.K. | _______________________________________________________________________________

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Wait until after Sun's announcement on 10th November 1992.

We've been round this loop. From time to time one vendor gets ahead in the MIPS/pound rating, but it doesn't stay that way for long. If you've got lots of experience with Sun, there would be considerable costs with switching and it is probably not worth it.

At the same time, phone Dee Payne at PCS in London (071-252-3009), tell her that I referred you on, and explain your situation. They (PCS) can offer all sorts of deals on this sort of equipment. Can't say any more, but it would be worth your while. If you want any more info, phone me.

-- Dunstan | Systems Design Division | Vavasour | CEGELEC Projects |From JANET: | Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21 1BU, UK | | Tel: (+44) 788 563535 |Fax: (+44) 788 560767

You want to stdize on Unix SVR4. Which of the three has this? The SPARC market has (about) > 60% of the overall workstation market; this has an impact on what 3rd party software is available.

DEC has not made up its mind about what to do with Unix. They are trying to push "OpenVMS"... (gimme a break).

HP's boxes aren't bad; they're floating point monsters for sure. Projected machines to be announced shortly are even faster and as cheap. But who else is using that RISC chip? If I need a floating-pt CPU server, I might use RPC's with HP, but for most of everyday work, the Sun market provides me with many, many software pkgs.

A little anecdote. I had a well-known Motif instructor teach a class for one of my clients. He exclusively used DEC workstations. I rented a bunch of IPX's for this class; he never used Suns. After the first day, he remarked to me how fast compiles/links were on these little machines. They were much faster than the DEC boxes. Both were similarly configured wrt RAM, disk, etc.

btw, I'd look into an NFS accelerator with your SS10's.

> I know the low end Sun may not match any offerings at the moment > but next week my change all that anyway and I am looking at machines > which do come close in pric/perf to get a good overall comparison. > So any one out there got any ideas ? One other point we use a lot > of third party software so any switch to other vendors would > incur extra costs like extra copies of software courses etc > for admin and users of new machines..

Exactly. However as any intelligent SysAdm would tell you, design for heteogeneity.

Frank G. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Paul Humphreys ( Postmaster ) paul@hydres.uucp HR Wallingford Howbery Park Wallingford Tel: 0491-35381 X2292 Oxon Fax: 0491-32233 OX10-8BA

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