Sun Microsystems last week announced new servers based on its UltraSparc T1 processor but made no mention of its storage strategy or product road map. Sun completed a US$4.1 billion acquisition of Storage Technology in September but has yet to reveal its postbuyout plans. Randy Kerns, the new vice president of strategy and planning for Sun's Data Management Group -- which mostly consists of StorageTek -- spoke yesterday with Computerworld about when customers can expect new products and about Sun's plans for addressing the coming threat of holographic storage.
Where does the integration process with Sun and StorageTek stand?
It's going along pretty well. We're organized along three business unit lines, and we're figuring out organizational structures, because the structures inside StorageTek are radically different than [at] Sun. So we're still getting everyone aligned as to what those are. On the bigger-picture issue side, we're working on putting all the products on a single price list, which is amazingly difficult because of the way the two companies work and the way the two different sales forces work. There's also a lot of things to think about when you make a [sales] deal and who has final authority. We're trying to get most of the things done in three months. Some of them are going to take a few more months. Of course, things in the [European Union] are taking a little longer because each country has a different set of laws around a merger and acquisition of this size.
Is holographic storage a threat to tape?
Until I see density characteristics of holographic storage that exceed what we have today, I don't see it as a threat. Once I start seeing those characteristics get to a certain point and can say, 'This is really cool stuff,' then it's a threat. It may become a higher tier in the hierarchy, and it may become another removable media.
What are Sun's plans for integrating holographic storage cartridges into the tape library systems from the StorageTek acquisition?
If it makes economic sense, we absolutely will. We're not developing holographic storage ourselves, but if a technology exists from another vendor ... and [we can] introduce it into our library mechanism -- and it makes economic sense -- we'll do that. Holographic [storage] may yield some density advantages. So if those get to the point where it is economical and it is reliable, we'll be in place to capitalize on it. That's one of the forward-looking things we're looking at.
So how far along are you in integrating holographic disk technology into your tape cartridge technology?
We have some advanced technology work that always goes on. It's not in a full development program. It's the type of thing where you get a head start on it so if it looks like it will materialize you'll be a long way down that road. That's what's going on right now. I don't think the holographic storage players are at a point yet where you can say it's real or ready, but whenever it is, we'll be ready in very short order.
Why were storage products missing from your server announcement this week?
We purposely didn't put any storage announcements in there because the announcement was such an overwhelming thing that they would have been lost. In the next quarter, you'll see a few new [storage] products for us.
In the past, Sun has struggled with a clear vision for its storage strategy. With StorageTek now on board, where is the focus?
Actually, we have the current product road map. Those are the near-term things. And we have a three-year plan. We haven't rolled it out externally yet. We're discussing that and will probably start to talk to people about that in the early part of next year. Then we have a five-year plan, and we'll keep that quiet for the next two or three [years], until we get closer in on it. We have some reservations talking about it externally just because we want to make sure everything's cooked on the dates we say we'll deliver.