System News
Andy Bechtolsheim at Sun (and Elsewhere)
Part-time Is More than Enough When You Do Things as Well as He Does
April 29, 2009,
Volume 134, Issue 5

I am very proud of all the accomplishments we have achieved as a systems team

-- Andy Bechtolsheim

Even as a part-timer, Andy Bechtolsheim is making his presence felt at Sun, where he now supervises the incorporation of solid-state technology into the company's Intel-based servers, storage packages and networking components. Few players could fill both that role and the job as chairman of Arista Networks, a cloud computing startup, but Bechtolsheim manages both with aplomb, writes Chris Preimesberger in

Virtually all of the next-generation Intel-based solutions Sun launched on April 14 incorporate some sort of solid state processor or storage component, and this project has been chief architect Bechtolsheim's brain child.

Bechtolsheim has also contributed to the creation of several new product architectures at Sun, including X64 servers and storage servers, and is continuing to work on key strategic initiatives, such as high-performance computing, Preimesberger writes.

A notable recent contribution is the design of the new Open Network Systems Network Express and storage modules, some of which have capacities of up to 24GB of memory in a form factor only a bit larger than a pack of gum, the writer notes.

"You bet, Andy did the design for these," Sun Vice President of Systems John Fowler said April 13 at a press briefing, where he displayed one of the small storage modules sporting several small black NAND flash chips that will be used in several of the new products.

"These things can be used in a lot of different places. They have 24GB of memory, and that goes a long way. Amazing how small these things are and how much they can do," Fowler said.

As if that were not enough of a contribution for a part-timer, Bechtolsheim has also led the design team for the new servers powered by Intel's new Xeon 5500 series quad-core processors, Preimesberger writes, which feature on-board networking technology and integrated NAND flash memory, a Solaris operating system optimized for the new Intel chip architecture, greater virtualization capabilities, and unified management.

"I am very proud of all the accomplishments we have achieved as a systems team, including the Sun Fire X4000 family of X64 servers, the Sun Constellation System, the Sun Fire storage servers and flash storage, and Sun Datacenter Switch 3x24, and I look forward to many more over the coming years," Bechtolsheim said when he joined Arista Networks in October 2008.

According to Preimesberger, Sun will need this influx of NAND flash—which enables data to be "read" up to 100 times faster than spinning disks and is better-suited for high-transaction-type applications—in its storage products to compete with EMC, Dell EqualLogic, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NetApp and smaller companies, such as Pillar Data Systems, Rackable, Compellent, Xiotech and SpectraLogic.

Arista Networks itself has about 50 employees and is also based in Menlo Park, not far from one of the two main Sun campuses. It makes 10GB Ethernet switches for data centers pricing them at one-tenth the cost of those made by its leading competitor, the world's largest networking infrastructure provider, Cisco Systems, where Bechtolsheim also worked for seven years in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Andy Bechtolsheim is leaving his mark on the industry.

More Information

Sun Fire X4540 Server

Sun Datacenter Switch 3x24

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Other articles in the Features section of Volume 134, Issue 5:
  • Andy Bechtolsheim at Sun (and Elsewhere) (this article)

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