Sun Makes Storage Moves

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (06/15/2000) - Sun Microsystems Inc. unveiled plans Wednesday to attack the rapidly growing US$30 billion network storage market in the same way it attacked traditional mainframe server markets in the '90s.

Announcements at the "Storage for the Net Economy" event here included the first Sun-branded storage products actually built by the computer maker, and a commitment from Sun President and CEO Ed Zander to "make storage a core competency" of the Palo Alto, California-based company.

Sun introduced the StorEdge T3 Array, affectionately referred to as "Purple" for its matching Sun corporate colors.

About the size of a toaster oven, the T3 is a modular, scalable, single unit that packs eight drives, with a ninth drive acting as a hot spare, according to Brian Young, product manager for Purple.

Capable of housing one-third of a terabyte of data, each T3 can operate alone or quickly scale out by adding racks of multiple units, making the cornerstone T3 product what CEO Zander called "the molecule of the atom."

"Purple gives us a very modular approach," Zander said. "It's a buy-what-you-need approach, from a small workgroup environment to an enterprise, or up to a data center. We call it Safe-Scale."

Denise Shiffman, vice president of marketing for Sun's Network Storage Division, said the T3 is "20 percent faster than the IBM S80," and that 44 terabytes had been configured in one highly scaled, operational T3 system, capable of serving 19,000 simultaneous users.

Comparing price points on a terabyte basis, Shiffman said 1 terabyte of memory from Sun's T3 costs $155,000, as compared to $700,000 for the same amount of storage from storage giant EMC.

Sun also announced a "Capacity on Demand" program that would lease storage to companies for 1 cent per megabyte.

On the software front, Sun rolled out its StorEdge Network Foundation Software, a suite of tools that incorporates Jiro Technology to manage multiple devices on the network.

"In our environment, all our management tools are Jiro-enabled. It's a browser-based model that's easy to understand and utilize," said Ron Lloyd, vice president of product development for Sun.

The company also announced a joint relationship with Mountain View, California-based Veritas Software, which brings Veritas Volume Manager technology to the Sun storage offering.

The combination of these software technologies on top of the new Sun storage offering adds storage network intelligence to the level of being able to locate problems buried deep within the fabric of a storage network, identify the failure or potential failure, and in many cases correct the mishap from the control console, company officials said.

"The whole idea is to manage the yellows and keep them from going red," Larry Hambly, president of enterprise services for Sun, summed up at the end of the announcement.

One analyst attending the event felt Sun's move into building its own storage systems couldn't have come too soon.

"Up to now, as successful as its been, Sun's server offerings have been a hodgepodge without the availability of matching certified storage systems, and now they have them," said Jim Porter, an analyst with the Connecticut-based research firm Disktrends.

Dan Neel is an InfoWorld reporter.

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