Sun Storms Network Storage Sector

Sun Microsystems Inc. Wednesday tossed
its hat into the $30 billion plus network storage market. The firm unveiled
its new storage systems line-up looking to eliminate technological
limitations of rival data storage suppliers.

Armed with an open platform scalable server product line-up in the
mid-1990s, Sun attacked traditional mainframe market
share with an onslaught of cost-effective network hardware.

Without storage, there is no Internet and Sun is lit-up to snatch-up a
major piece of the market. Only this time, its not depending on Solaris to
be the only platform in town.

Ed Zander, Sun president and chief operating officer, said Sun is offering
businesses a choice in data storage systems.

“Large enterprises, dot-com companies, just about every business sector
that is addressing the absolutely explosive growth trends in storage is
tired of being hijacked from choice,” Zander said.

“As everything with a digital heartbeat connects to the Internet, and data
explodes from text to graphics, audio and video, our customers are
clamoring for a more modern, open and networked-based solution. Monolithic,
mainframe-like architectures for storage will not be able to keep pace with
the Net,” Zander added. “Today Sun is taking on this immense opportunity
head-on with our StorEdge family of products and services.”

The Sun storage systems offer local and remote data protection software, a
full suite of customer care programs, and a number of key storage partner
programs with open standards endorsements.

Sun’s network of servers, peripherals, wireless devices, desktops, and
appliances is driving to fulfill the demand for insatiable data storage
growth. The firm remains committed to developing “any-to-any” connectivity
from its proprietary Solaris platform, to Linux, Unix or NT networks.

Because Sun is basing its server products in support of open standard
interfaces and technologies, nearly any device that accesses data could do
so through any its server-software combinations.

Sun’s open storage system can deliver the same functionality as
traditional, mainframe data storage. But it can do so in a much more
cost-effective manner, through a network of services that allow secure
access to its growing pool of information.

Sun’s approach is similar to the way it used to open standards to migrate
traditional data centers away from mainframes and onto network-based servers.

McArthur, IDC vice president of storage
research, estimates that the disk storage systems market will reach $46
billion by 2003, up more than $16 billion from 1999.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant enhancement to Sun’s
Networked Storage vision,” McArthur said. “As one of the leading suppliers
of enterprise servers with a renewed focus on storage, Sun is increasingly
well positioned to compete for networked storage opportunities.”

At the heart of Sun’s assault on the data storage market is its building
block disk storage system, dubbed Sun StorEdge T3 array, but know within
the firm as “Purple.” Its data protection software allows companies to
manage their data from any location on multi-vendor arrays.

The system also offers a full suite of storage-specific services aimed at
ensuring data integrity, ranging from predictive monitoring and pre-emptive
response to capacity planning. Purple is about the size of a desktop
computer and can store up to one-third of a terabyte of data.

Purple is stackable, so there is no single point of failure in its design.
When configured as a pair, every component is redundant, making it a highly
reliable means to increase data availability. By stacking the building
blocks, Purple potentially scales from 324 gigabytes to 88 terabytes, or 88
billion megabytes of capacity. As a re

sult, the Sun StorEdge T3 array is
one-half to one-third the price of an equally configured rival system from
EMC Corp.

Mark Fredrickson, EMC director of corporate
communications, said the storage market leader plans to solidify its top
spot in the industry by pumping $2.5 billion into research and development
over the next two years.

“IDC reports indicate that EMC owns 27 percent of the worldwide data
storage market, while Sun has only 8 percent.” Fredrickson said.

He added that EMC has been growing its business at the expense of Sun,
because it has been acquiring companies to get into data storage game,
rather then become an expert in the field.

“This is the fourth year in a row that Sun has ‘entered’ the storage
market,” Fredrickson said. “It’s starting to be an annual event. Today’s
new system was not developed by Sun labs, it was bought though a deal with
MAXSTRAT Corp. Sun has no storage
pedigree, they’re attempting to enter the market by buying companies, not
developing technologies.”

MAXSTRAT Corp. was acquired by Sun in January 1999. The technical team and
storage experts are currently a part of Sun’s Network Storage Division
headquartered in Newark, CA.

EMC’s Fredrickson said that benchmarking results were not available on
Sun’s new system, but that initial reports from clients indicated that it
might need some tweaking to be a contender.

“Leader’s need followers,” Fredrickson said. “This is a very lucrative
market and storage requires robust and scalable solutions. Sun may be
scalable, but initial reports from our clients indicate that Sun is not yet
ready for prime-time action.”

Fault tolerant or not, the market will ultimately decide whether to shine
on Sun’s price-sensitive storage hardware and software line-up, or stick
with a company like EMC that invests big bucks in its research and
development of data storage technologies.

News Around the Web