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Sun: We Still Love Hitachi, Too!

Not looking to be left out of the hottest three-way in the enterprise storage business, Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) has extended its deal to resell the Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) Lightning high-end storage array through the end of 2006 -- just two weeks after Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) announced it was re-upping its own agreement with Hitachi for the same system (see Sun, Hitachi Extend OEM Deal and HP, Hitachi Renew Vows).

The original agreement between Sun and Hitachi, signed in August 2001, was set to expire next year. Sun claims that in the past two years, it has sold 5 petabytes worth of the Lightning systems, representing a total of about 90,000 drives.

Under the terms of the extended agreement, Sun, Hitachi, and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Hitachi's worldwide enterprise storage sales arm, will continue to collaborate on marketing, sales support, services, and joint customer support centers related to the Lightning array.

"Having the [Lightning] 9900 in our product line has helped Sun grow its market share from almost nowhere two years ago to being one of the leading providers of high-end arrays in the market," says Mark Canepa, EVP of Sun's network storage group.

Well, not exactly. Sun still hold less than 10 percent share of the segment, according to IDC. And a factor limiting Sun's ability to differentiate itself at the high end is that two other big players sell exactly the same hardware: HDS and HP, which earlier this month said it will continue to resell the Lightning as the StorageWorks XP line through 2008.

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