Sun Bets On Server-Storage Convergence - InformationWeek

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Sun Bets On Server-Storage Convergence

CEO Jonathan Schwartz combines the company's storage and server product teams to package Sun's hardware products for data center administrators.

Sun Microsystems on Monday said it has combined its storage and server product teams into a systems group focused on the convergence of computing, storage, and networking.

Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz said combining the three technologies is exactly what data center administrators want to hear, given that they're the ones in charge of the interactions among the trio. "We want to be in a position to innovate on their behalf, at the system level, beyond the boxes -- across blades, racks, disk, and tape," Schwartz said in his blog.

As a result, Sun plans to be "strongly focused" on being a multiplatform storage provider, similar to how its servers today run multiple operating systems, and the company's Solaris operating system runs on other vendors' servers, Schwartz said.

Sun has said for a while that it sees the IT world shifting to open and general-purpose platforms, and it expects those systems to dominate growth for Sun and the market in general. The company last year started to move aggressively away from chips and systems designed for specialized tasks and toward a more multipurpose approach with the release of three general-purpose servers based on Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chip.

The releases included the Thumper server, also known as the Sun Fire X4500, which is a tight combination of server hardware and up to 24 Tbytes of disk space assembled into a rack mount unit that's about seven inches high. The X4500 was Sun's first general-purpose storage system.

If customers combine products like Thumper with Sun's recent network innovations, such as the Magnum InfiniBand switch or Crossbow network virtualization technology, "it begins to look like we've got all the right ingredients to reinvent the data center," Schwartz said.

Sun's new systems team also is expected to continue development of standalone storage and networking, leveraging disk, tape, and future removable media as they build integrated systems, Schwartz said. "I'm expecting to see more innovation, faster time to market, and a breadth of opportunities emerging from serving our current customers better than ever, while inviting new customers with a constant stream of high-value innovation."

In a recent research note, Illuminata said it is seeing the industry swing toward server-storage dependence. Virtualization is among the factors pulling the industry in that direction. Virtualization vendor XenSource, for example, signed an agreement with Symantec to embed the Veritas Storage Foundation software into XenEnterprise, and "to collaborate further on delivering additional server-based storage and data management services," Illuminata said. XenSource rival VMware also is moving in a similar direction.

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