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Will Sun Seize the Day?

6:00 PM -- On the face of it, Sun Microsystems has a lot to be nervous about this week. Its, er, understated quarterly product launch was followed immediately by news that two rivals in the tape drive space will join to double their market share. (See Quantum Takes Tape Rival ADIC, Med Data Providers in Pact, and Sun Switches Gears.)

But save your pity. This week's news probably won't affect Sun in the long term. After all, this is a company with all the makings for success, poised at a crossroads and with new management. It has partners, feet on the street, and big, influential IT relationships. The main danger, it seems, is whether management will recognize the opportunities.

Instead of throwing time and effort toward reinventing the wheel, for instance, Sun needs to build on what's already in its back yard. "Some of Sun's historic successes in storage systems sales have been via partners, OEM, and reseller arrangements that combine Sun value-added services and tools as a total solution," says Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at the StorageIO consultancy. Hopefully, Sun will see the value of being an integrating force rather than merely competing with specialists.

Sun also needs to pick its spots regarding what it does choose to home in on. "What a comeback story if Sun could recapture the NAS/NFS market that they created and then capture the open systems VTL/VSM market given their deep mainframe... roots," Schulz muses.

It's a question of priorities. If Sun leverages clustering, NAS, and VTL with partnerships, for instance, it could short-circuit the long lead times that could otherwise drive prospective buyers into other camps.

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