April plans for Sun's storage roadmap

Sun Microsystems will outline its long-term storage strategy in early April following the completion of the company's US$4.1 billion acquisition of storage vendor StorageTek back in September last year.

Sun Microsystems will outline its long-term storage strategy in early April following the completion of the company's US$4.1 billion acquisition of storage vendor StorageTek back in September last year.

"There's going to be a big launch that we're going to have on April 12," Randy Kearns, vice president of Sun's new Data Management Group told ZDNet Australia last week. The division was set up in the wake of the acquisition and used to be called the Network Storage Group.

"What we're going to do in April is we're going to explain a lot about what value we're going to have in the marketplace, we're going to talk a lot about the individual products, and then we're going to have a statement of strategy for our direction for the next three years," the executive said.

"We've got product roadmaps that are fairly detailed and go out for about 18 months."

United States-based Kearns -- in town to speak with local staff, partners and some customers -- also outlined some of the product changes that users can expect to see in the near future.

"We're going to be announcing a lot of new disk products," he said, noting a June time frame for their release into the market.

"In the tape world, we announced last November our Titanium drive, and on March 1st, that goes into volume production."

"Right after the middle of the year, we're going to release another version of that tape drive, with encryption. We think that encrypting removable media will be something that customers will say they absolutely have to have," he added.

"For our Information Lifecycle Management solution called Intellistore, we're going to start disclosing some more about the roadmap for that," Kearns said.

"There's another version of that coming out in the June timeframe that will have integrated archiving software for tape, to manage data movement between tiers within the product all the way to tape."

Kearns said Sun's storage product line would also be influenced by the 2002 European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).

The directive takes effect on 1 July this year, and restricts the use in electronics manufacturing of six substances, among them lead, mercury and cadmium.

"What's that done is forced a lot of product transitions to meet those requirements," said Kearns.

"Quite obviously we don't want to carry two product lines, one for Europe and one for everyplace else, so you're going to see coming up a lot of product transitions for us because of that," he added.

The StorageTek integration is going well for the most part, according to the executive.

"The execution is not without a lot of mistakes, and false starts, and everything -- not as fast as you'd like, but we're really working hard at it, and we've got pretty good people," he said.

According to Kearns, changing people's mindset about Sun's business model is probably the hardest thing about the integration.

"We've got to convince customers that storage is a serious business for us and we're really in it, because they're so used to thinking of Sun as servers and Solaris only," he said.

"The customers I've been talking with, we were just waiting until the smoke cleared, and now we can start meaningful dialogues about how we can help them with their business."

Kearns' division will certain preside over a large part of Sun's business.

"If you look at it from a revenue standpoint, the storage business is one-third of Sun's revenue," he said. "And one-fourth of all Sun's people are in storage."

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