Sun's Solution Blitz: New SMB Storage Onslaught

Arrays will be marketed alongside Linux, volume server lines

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Sun Microsystems this week plans to unleash its first storage arrays for the SMB market.

The Sun StorEdge 3000 arrays, priced starting at about $7,000, are slated to be unveiled this week by Mark Canepa, Sun's executive vice president of storage, during Net@Work 2002, a solution provider conference being held in Amelia Island, Fla., by the MOCA division of Arrow Electronics.

Sun's move follows on the heels of EMC's acquisition last week of Prisa Networks, a privately held supplier of SAN management software for small and midsize SAN environments.

Sun, currently the No. 5 vendor in the disk-storage hardware space, expects the channel to play a big part in its volume storage strategy, said Bill Groth, senior director of storage systems marketing at the vendor.

The first product in the line, the Sun StorEdge 3300, is a 2U, rack-mount array that can be configured with one or two RAID controllers or as a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) device. Each case can hold up to 12 hard drives that are either 36 Gbytes or 73 Gbytes each. By linking three units together, the maximum capacity in 6U of rack space is 2.6 Tbytes, Groth said. The devices are NEBS level 3 and military specification 810-compliant.

Sun will provide reference configurations with its volume servers, including the LX50 Linux server introduced last month, as well as its V880 servers, Groth said. Those configurations will be available via Sun's distributors, so solution providers can order a complete server and storage solution for customers in Linux, Windows and ruggedized environments, he said.

A five-drive JBOD version of Sun's StorEdge 3300 will list for about $7,000.

The arrays, which will attach to Solaris, Sun Linux, Red Hat Linux, Windows NT and Windows 2000, are shipping in limited quantity and will be available in volume in mid-October, Groth said.

With five hard drives, the JBOD version lists for about $7,000, while the single-controller version lists for about $13,000. 1U versions and models with Fibre Channel connectivity are due in December, he said.

Don McDowell, vice president of server solutions at Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider, said Sun's move gives partners a chance to add storage to entry-level server sales. "I'm not going to go into this space for the price," he said. "But if there's a value-add proposition, we will consider it."

Sun's StorEdge 3300, together with its associated management software, was built for Sun by Dot Hill Systems, Carlsbad, Calif. Sun executives in late May said the company would purchase Dot Hill arrays on a private-label basis. Sun has an option to take an equity stake of up to 5 percent in Dot Hill.

Sun faces stiff competition from EMC, which followed up its recent introduction of a new Clariion line for the SMB market with its $20 million buyout last week of Prisa. The deal represents EMC's eighth software acquisition in three years.

Kevin Reith, manager of strategic technology at Info Systems, a Wilmington, Del.-based EMC solution provider, said the Prisa software could be a good fit for EMC's Clariion line, which he said is being sold to customers with as few as 10 Wintel servers.

"It's nice to see EMC doing something with low-cost management tools," he said.

San Diego-based Prisa's products include VisualSAN Network Manager, which discovers, manages and monitors multivendor SAN devices; VisualSAN Configuration Manager, which enables rapid visual identification and isolation of issues within a SAN; VisualSAN Performance Manager, which provides realtime performance monitoring and tracking; and VisualSAN Remote Support Suite, which provides remote support tools for SAN installations.

An EMC spokesperson said the products are especially suitable for small companies with about eight servers that are moving from a direct-attached environment to a SAN for the first time.

EMC said it plans to maintain Prisa's current OEM relationships, including its ties with long-standing ally Dell Computer.

Future plans call for upgrade paths to EMC's ControlCenter and SAN Manager applications, the spokesperson said.

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