Sun consolidation strategy causes confusion

Sun Microsystems has laid out a roadmap for its storage and IT services strategy, saying it will offer multivendor storage...

Sun Microsystems has laid out a roadmap for its storage and IT services strategy, saying it will offer multivendor storage management technology and focus on helping IT managers consolidate the servers and storage devices in their data centres.

But Sun executives appeared to be long on vision and short on details during a briefing last week.

"Can someone please stand up and describe what the strategy is?" said John Webster, an analyst at Data Mobility Group. "I think they're really struggling with this."

Mike Karp, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates lauded Sun for its ability to produce good technology, but criticised its marketing. Sun officials do appear to understand some of the basic benefits that data centre consolidation efforts can deliver to users, but he added, "They've not been able to articulate a strategy for two years."

Mark Canepa, executive vice president of network storage at Sun, said the company is developing multivendor storage management software using the Storage Management Interface Specification, a set of models and protocols designed to let storage management tools control disc and tape devices from multiple hardware vendors.

Canepa also emphasised Sun's N1 strategy for dynamically allocating storage devices and other system resources to applications as needed. Sun acquired storage virtualisation technology when it bought Pirus Networks last November, and Canepa said it would unveil automated provisioning software that can serve up pooled storage like a utility pver the next few years.

Although Sun did not give full details about when and how it will be able to support management of multivendor storage-area networks (San), Susan Sparks, director of corporate information systems for the provincial government of Nova Scotia, said as part of the briefing that such capabilities are no longer a big issue for her.

Sparks, whose agency runs back-office applications for Nova Scotia's schools, housing department and health care system, standardised this year on SAP's software and an all-Sun San.

"People out there are living the day-to-day nightmare of supporting multivendor environments," she said. "I'm not anymore."

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

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