Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) hopes to get a leg up on the SAN market via a
multibillion-dollar cross-licensing deal announced with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) today.
Sun's storage systems have traditionally only supported its own servers.
Hitachi's Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 storage arrays, in contrast,
service a broad range of server types, says Jim Herbert, general manager of
Sun's data center storage business. "From a network perspective, companies
want storage to be agnostic and able to hook up to anything, which is what
this deal is about," says Herbert. Sun intends to rebadge the products as
its StorEdge 9900 series.
The deal appears to be a direct challenge to rivals EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and IBM Global Services. Sun
plans to bundle its servers, applications, and storage networking
devices with those from HDS, and then provide the support services on top.
This is a business at which IBM already excels. It is also one
that EMC is planning to augment: The storage giant has made no secret of its
intentions to beef up its professional services business since the decline
in hardware prices.
During EMC's recent earnings call, Joe
Tucci, president and CEO, said the company would put 75 percent of its research and development
budget -- roughly $750 million -- into developing its automation software and
expanding its services organization. EMC is shooting for a business model for
2003 where about 30 percent of its revenue would derive from software and
approximately 20 percent from services. During the most recent quarter,
software and services represented 25 percent, and 11 percent, respectively,
of EMC's total revenue.
"We will be keeping a close eye on those numbers," says Sun's Herbert. "We plan
to give IBM and EMC a pretty good run for their money."