Sun Combines Server, Storage Businesses

Sun Microsystems announced Monday that it would join its server and
storage businesses internally, while maintaining a separate sales and
marketing face for the two groups.

Sun executives determined it
made sense to put both servers and storage all under one roof, because the two groups tend to frequently work
together, often hand-in-hand.

“Now, why do I believe combining groups make sense? It’s a recipe that
works for us,” Sun CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz wrote in a blog post, citing the combination of the high-performance SPARC server group with the x86 group. “Can you tell where the server stops, and the storage starts? I can’t (and in a virtualized world, it’s not terribly important).”

John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun Systems, will manage the combined unit. He echoed Schwarz’s point during a later conference call with Jon Benson, senior vice president of storage.

“The distinctions between what constitutes a computer server and what
constitutes a computer storage system and what constitutes fiber band are
going down,” Fowler said. “We decided to combine these groups into a single
group to facilitate that.”

Despite the internal restructuring, Sun will retain separate sales and
marketing teams.

“The customer-facing representatives will remain intact, but behind that,
we’re leveraging all we have at Sun,” Fowler said. “We’ll be taking
advantage of the leverage we’ll have when we have a conversation to mix
those two.”

He added that Sun’s roadmap remains unchanged and there will be no
reduction in headcount, despite recent rounds of job cuts at the company to
do just that.

Rather, Fowler said, the move is about putting the engineering teams and
intellectual property of the two groups under one roof to advance storage
technology.

“We have seen a lot of changes in disk storage in general because of the
ability to use ZFS and price performance,” Fowler said. “We expect the disk
storage market to be the area that evolves the most rapidly in the next few
years.”

Pund-IT principal analyst Charles King said the move makes sense. “The
storage organization of the company is not huge to begin with, but the fact
of the matter is the server and storage organizations tend to communicate
with the same people, so having them within the same group makes a lot of
sense from an economies of scale standpoint,” he told
InternetNews.com.

King added that by keeping two related groups working closer in concert,
the move would help Sun’s efforts in a hotly competitive market.

“What the company really needs to do, and appears to be trying to do, is
work in a more cohesive manner,” King said.

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