RealTime IT News

Sun Nabs Storage Startup

Amid the flurry of news at its own SunNetwork 2002 conference in San Francisco, Sun Microsystems Thursday said it has agreed to purchase data storage concern Pirus Networks for an undisclosed amount of stock.

The Palo Alto, Calif. networking firm bought the Acton, Mass.-based startup with a keen eye for the startup's switching devices and virtualization technology. Used as part of a storage area network , virtualization is the pooling of storage from many network storage devices into what appears to the operating system to be a single storage device that is managed from a central console.

Though major vendors make similar technology, Pirus competes with the likes of Rhapsody Networks and Confluence Networks. Sun plucked Pirus after scouting some 65 companies.

Mark Lovington, vice president of marketing for Pirus, told internetnews.com that Pirus and Sun have been in discussion for a while about a possible acquisition. Pirus, he said, succeeded in a goal it shares with a lot of storage startups -- to be acquired by one of the major systems vendors, such as Sun IBM, HP, Hitachi.

"This is a huge opportunity for Pirus in a storage market dominated by 6,7 or 8 system-level players," Lovington said. "Sun sees this acquisition as a critical element to their N1 initiative. The synergies were quite obvious."

N1 is Sun's hopeful tour de force in distributed computing architecture, which involves multiple, remote computers that each have a role in a computation problem or information processing. N1 is being styled as the answer for companies looking to manage groups of computers and networks as a single system -- at a lower cost and with greater flexibility.

While lagging behind other, more entrenched players, Sun is gaining ground in the storage market with its Sun StorEdge Complete Storage Solutions, according to a new report by IDC. John McArthur, group vice president of IDC's Storage program, said Sun Microsystems and IBM posted the largest increases in total storage revenue over Q1 2002, with 32% and 11% gains, respectively. As of Q2, Sun held a 9 percent market share, with revenues of $411 million.

Sun's acquisition of Pirus is expected to close in the second quarter of Sun's 2003 fiscal year, which ends December 29, 2002.