The Sad Future of Sun Storage

The reality is that Sun Storage will die a slow and unfortunate death

George Crump

April 21, 2009

3 Min Read
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Cutting to the chase, IBM may be the real winner here, because it won't get saddled with Sun. But what does the Oracle acquisition mean to the storage part of Sun? Well, of course, the leftovers at Sun will make this sound as if this was the best deal ever and that the Sun storage offering will be better than ever. Really?

First, expect major layoffs after the acquisition is complete at the legacy Sun divisions. Oracle has a track record of doing so in past acquisitions (PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems, and BEA Systems), so don't expect this to be any different.

Mr. Ellison seemed most excited about getting Java from the deal, and really not much was mentioned about storage. From a storage perspective, what does Sun really have? It has its unified storage system, the 6580/6780 storage arrays, the whole ZFS effort and, of course, the whole STK library family.

Despite some success with the Unified Storage System, it still has a long uphill climb; the traditional storage arrays are OEMed Engenio arrays, so they could cut those back pretty easily. I think one of the diamonds in the storage end of this acquisition is ZFS and the Open Storage effort. ZFS is gaining traction among many suppliers and users. A quick announcement from Oracle supporting the effort would go a long way, closely followed up with a commitment to leave it alone and allow the community to continue the development effort.

The second storage diamond in this sale, oddly enough, is the STK Library family. I know, I always pick on tape -- it's fun, tape sales are either flat or only declining slightly, but even flat tape revenue for STK is pretty good. Oracle can just milk this cash cow without much additional development effort. Oracle would just have to deal with minor upgrades to enable support for future drive technologies.Ideally, Oracle spins the Sun storage group out and lets it focus. Lets see if it can compete better without the shackles of Sun wrapped around its feet. Unfortunately, Oracle will more than likely try to "integrate" the companies and make Sun storage even better. There will be the implication that Sun storage will be optimized for Oracle. I doubt that will happen -- there are more than a few storage companies that already have optimization for Oracle databases, or have other features that deliver great performance.

The real challenge with an integration attempt will be that neither company has a great track record of integration. How many of the companies that Sun or Oracle purchased have actually done better post transaction? What would possibly lead you to believe that this will be any different? Reality is that Sun Storage will die a slow and unfortunate death.

George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland , which provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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