Hitachi Renews Sun Contract, Talks About New Product Directions

In addition, HDS expects to unveil a heterogeneous data replication solution in the near future, according to an HDS spokesperson, who added that the company also plans to introduce offerings including its next generation of scalable storage architecture, a utility solution for "pay-as-you-grow" storage, new professional services aimed at compliance and data life cycles and a program for solution providers to deliver those services.

The original reseller agreement with Sun, signed in August 2001, signaled Sun's first entry into the enterprise-class storage space. Prior to that, solution providers that sold Sun servers generally brought in EMC to handle the storage side of the deal.

The agreement, originally slated to expire next year, will now be extended until August 2006, said Mark Canepa, executive vice president of worldwide network storage products at Sun.

The reseller relationship has helped both companies expand their enterprise presence, Canepa said. "In the last couple of years, we went from very little presence in storage in the data center," he said. "Hitachi helped us grow strongly in this space. Sun also helped HDS grow in this space as well."

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The relationship has also been good for the channel, with solution providers accounting for about the same percentage of Sun's storage sales as Sun's direct sales, Canepa said.

Hank Johnson, vice president of the Infrastructure Solutions Group at Stonebridge Technologies, a Dallas-based solution provider, said he is a "big fan" of Hitachi. "I'm a bigger fan of Sun for working with Hitachi on [its Lightning] 9900," he said.

The HDS relationship has made a big difference for Sun and its VARs, said Johnson. "Sun is a premier provider of enterprise computing, and that means both servers and storage," he said.

The relationship has made it easier for HDS to extend its reach to areas where it has neither direct nor solution provider relationships, said Marlene Woodworth, executive vice president and general manager for global marketing at the vendor.

In addition to Sun, HDS also has an OEM relationship with Hewlett-Packard and reseller agreements with other server vendors. The company also works directly with solution providers, many of which also resell its arrays with the Sun name.

Woodworth said indirect sales account for more than 50 percent of HDS' sales worldwide.