You are obviously a Sun fan !!
I have nothing against Sun. They so some brilliant stuff (despite the fact they are run by software guys who don't see the need for RAID controllers because SOLARIS can do that in SOFTWARE....)
I'm not suggesting that they designed the 6000 specifically to address shortcomings in the 8000 series. Hopefully they made this road map clear to their customers, but they sure did not publicize it much before announce.
As per IBM and HP's designs, obviously longevity has a role in maturity of support. Both IBM and HP (from Compaq) have a long history of providing "commodity" x86 servers, specific skill sets that Sun lacks. They both have long histories of partnerships with OS vendors (beyond their own Unix flavors) and server-specific management features, especially software tool sets) which are necessary when deploying servers in volume and around the globe. Fitting into an IBM or HP infrastructure is one thing, but reporting up to a Configuration Database (as ITIL suggest is a best practice) can only be done with MIBS that can reach deep enough into the hardware to provide such detail. Proprietary they may be but both IBM and HP spend a fortune developing their respective management tools, and Sun and Dell do not. Perhaps CIOs who make purchasing decisions don't care, but when Admins in the trenches who want to get home on time have a say, they will pick a server with a robust management infrastructure.
I'm not sure you really understand what Virtual Connect provides ... NEMS are just aggregation modules. Please read up on what VC actually does.. It truly is a unique value proposition (and even IBM has to cobble together a bunch of Cisco gear and shims to make anything similar work.) In the HIGHLY unlikely event that an I/O module should fail, there are sufficient redundant ports on any given blade to accommodate this, and with VC, it is pretty simple to migrate any specific workload to a "hot spare" blade to repair the module. The MAC and WWN belongs to the ENCLOSURE SLOT and not the physical blade.
I have no data to suggest anything, but I have seen the real estate on half-height blades that suggests removing two hot-plug drives and a BBWC module could conceivably leave room for 16 DIMM sockets in that form factor. Perhaps it WOULD be impossible to cool, but this is all hypotheses.
As far as cost-effective I/O modules are concerned, it appears to me that at least when you look at HBAs, the blade form factors cost HALF what a stand-up PCI card costs. In 25 years of working with servers, I/O component failure has probably been one of the LEAST significant issues I have witnessed. Again, give
Sun points on an RFP, but not enough to necessarily seal the deal as a "must-have" (unless they write the RFP themselves.)
I do maintain that a portfolio of half and full height blades gives a customer more choices to accommodate specific tasks.
Sun will obviously sell some of these into their installed base, and prevent some further erosion of their x86 business. They certainly deserve that for their efforts.