Sun Moves To Firm Up Storage Strategy

Avnet has signed on to distribute Sun's full line of legacy StorageTek and Sun storage products plus Sun four-way and under SPARC servers as well as its complete AMD-based server line, including the new blade servers introduced last week.

With the agreement, Tempe, Ariz.-based Avnet joins Boulder, Colo.-based Access Distribution and the MOCA division of Englewood, Colo.-based Arrow Electronics as Sun distributors in the United States.

The move is a relief to several Sun solution providers that were dealing with Avnet for StorageTek products and either MOCA or Access for Sun systems.

"Beautiful," said Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based StorageTek and Sun solution provider. "Sun's made the right decision to keep Avnet in the fold. Keeping the strongest StorageTek distributor will do nothing but enhance Sun storage."

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It's a move Sun had to make, said Tom Kuni, president of SSI hubcity, a Metuchen, N.J.-based Sun partner. "If Sun's seriously interested in the storage business, which they are, signing an off-[Sun]-platform distributor is logical," he said.

For Solarcom, the agreement is a non-issue because it does not include Sun's enterprise-class servers, said Ed Gogol, director of enterprise systems for the Norcross, Ga.-based solution provider. "We do a lot in the high-end enterprise server space," he said. "If Avnet isn't able to provide that equipment, it doesn't do us much good."

However, Gogol said, the agreement does signal that Sun is finally improving its StorageTek integration. "I hope it leads to great things from Sun in the storage arena," he said.

Jeff Bawol, senior vice president and general manager for enterprise software and storage at Avnet Partner Solutions, which is responsible for Avnet's non-IBM and non-Hewlett-Packard business, said his company internally is focused on selling Sun storage, not its servers.

Avnet signed on so that it can offer the servers to go with a complete Sun solution, Bawol said.

Jeff Barteld, director of U.S. channel sales at Sun, said while Sun still has a closed distribution model, solution providers can continue working with Avnet and another distributor while Sun unifies its storage price list, which is expected to be finished in October.