Sun rises in storage

Three cheers for Mark Canepa, Sun's vice president of networked storage and his team. The once black sheep of the Sun product family, storage is coming home as the prodigal son. Over the past year, Sun has expanded its storage offerings to address the entry-level and enterprise markets and is steadily growing its overall storage market share.

About 18 months ago, Sun's network storage offering consisted of the T3 and various tape library solutions. That's it. It wasn't too sure this storage-area network (SAN) thing would really take off. Today, due to extensive partnerships and refreshed enthusiasm around storage, Sun offers the StorEdge 3000 family in the midrange and the StorEdge 9900 series as online storage for high-end data centers. Sun has also beefed up its tape products to complement its online storage gear.

From reading my columns you'll know my bias is toward the software side of storage. What really excites me about the changes at Sun over the past year is its focus on management software. This is where Sun has invested a significant amount of time and money, as well as intellectual property. Today, its storage management software suite consists of Enterprise Storage Manager, Performance Suite, Traffic Manager, the Utilization Suite and Storage Resource Manager. While much of this is basic functionality required to play in the storage market, it shows that Sun has started to take storage seriously. If it is able to execute on its vision for storage, it will be challenging currently entrenched solutions.

Finally, Sun has started to target storage solutions at its customers. An example of this is its Mail Archive solution, which integrates hardware and software to move aged e-mail data off the primary storage and onto secondary storage, where it can still be accessed in an online capacity if needed.

Sun still has a lot of work to do to catch up with many of its competitors in the storage market. Still, I have to give the company credit for coming a long way in a very short period.

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