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RealTime IT News

Sun Guns for Traction in Storage Sector

Sun Microsystems Inc. trained its competitive guns on IBM Corp., EMC Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. when it overhauled its enterprise storage offerings. Sun President Ed Zander formally launched the large undertaking at the Sun Worldwide Analyst Conference 2002 in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon.

First in the Palo Alto, Calif. outfit's software designs is Storage ONE, which is patterned after the Sun Open Net Environment (ONE). Sun said this "is designed to enable customers to manage the service, not the storage." With this comes Sun StorEdge QFS and SAM-FS software, a file system which provides scalability to 252 terabytes versus traditional file systems that max out at 1 TB. Sun also unveiled its StorEdge Resource Management Suite Software, including a capacity reporter, database reporter, global reporter and file reporter services.

The firm also unveiled two new storage systems -- Sun StorEdge 3900 series and 6900 series. The 3900 series is a Fibre Channel product with connections that support up to 11 terabytes of data, while the 6900 series is designed for storage consolidation and offers 11TB of storage capacity.

Lastly, Sun revealed StorEdge Remote Response Service, three new storage centers, and new courses and training to complement these new offerings and a partner program, iForce Storage Elite, to provide special accreditation, incentives, and co-marketing opportunities.

Sun's push is predicated on two notions. On the one hand, the firm realizes the market opportunities involved with storage systems to support data, voice, text, and multi-media -- storage array, which IDC said will hit $25 billion in 2002; on the other, the networking giant's previous attempts at storage had been relatively woeful compared to the progress of IBM, EMC and Compaq.

John Young, storage analyst for DHBrown, praised Sun's news.

"The level of software, hardware, and services integration reflected throughout this announcement shows the determination of Sun's development organizations to 'get it right' for their customers," Young said in a public statement. "Sun Storage ONE management architecture and the new Sun StorEdge 3900 and 6900 series, in particular, are strong evidences of Sun's commitment to deliver integrated solutions in response to identified customer needs."

Though quiet in recent months, storage software is important enough to garner attention from research firms such as IDC and Gartner Inc., both of whom released storage reports in Oct. 2001. IDC said it feels worldwide storage software market revenues will top $10 billion by 2005, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4%, from $5.47 billion in 2000.

This explosion, IDC feels, will be propagated by an increase in the use of digital forms of information caused by ecommerce application deployment; growing awareness of the need to protect corporate information residing on client desktops and mobile laptops, a salient point driven home repeatedly by analysts since the events of Sept. 11; and a shortage of IT staff trained to possess storage expertise.

Gartner took a different route, choosing to scrutinize the market for external storage, 80 percent of which it claimed will be managed by outside parties. The culprit here, the research firm said, is the amazing growth in the amount of data that needs to be stored, particularly in Internet data centers. This means enterprises must adopt network storage strategies to avoid considerable staff growth. Nick Allen, vice president and research director for Gartner, blamed the difficulty of storage managment on insufficient tools.

"Most of our clients report that they can afford to buy storage, but they can't manage it," said Allen. "The main reason for this shortfall is that storage management tools have not yielded sufficient productivity gains to cope with such high growth rates. Gartner's view is that none of the large, established storage management vendors will be able to provide such gains."