Sun Launches New Approach To Data Management

The new strategy is focused around four key functions: identity management, virtualization, encryption, and software integration.

May 3, 2006

4 Min Read
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Now that last week's executive shuffle at Sun Microsystems is old news, what's next for the company?

Sun got back to business Tuesday, launching its new approach to data management that's focused around four key functions: identity management, virtualization, encryption and software integration. Scott McNealy, former CEO and current chairman of Sun and now Sun Federal, was met with a standing ovation as he kicked off the keynote session at Sun's quarterly Network Computing event in Washington, D.C.

Like EMC and a number of other companies that offer storage products, Sun is looking to evolve its offerings into a platform for overall data management, focusing on availability, business continuity and the ability to apply policy to information through the lifecycle of data from creation to deletion. The new platform incorporates its own technology as well as products inherited with last year's acquisition of StorageTek.

"It's really all about the data, not the storage," McNealy said. "It's about retrieval, conditional access and identity management. [We] have to change the approach."

This new approach is being packaged as the "information management maturity model," or IM3, and incorporates the various products in Sun's portfolio. Unlike IBM, which McNealy says handles data in a custom way, Sun focuses on integration across the system.By applying identity management to stored data, customers can determine who has access to data throughout its life cycle, said Nigel Dessau, vice president of Sun's tape business unit. To provide better access control, Sun is tying its Java Systems Access Manager into the StorageTek Enterprise Storage Manager (ESM), which is a Web-based tool that lets administrators monitor, report and provide chargebacks on multivendor storage networks. In addition, the Java Identity Auditor will be paired with the Sun StorageTek 5300 series to better integrate identity management with information life-cycle management (ILM).

Among the products launched is the Sun StorageTek 5320 NAS appliance, based on an AMD Opteron processor, which brings a 60-day Try and Buy offering for comparison against its Network Appliance competitor. The Virtual Storage Manager 5, a virtual tape solution for mainframe environments, doubles capacity and performance over its predecessor, while Virtual Storage Manager 4e provides a scaled-down alternative for small and midsize customers. All three options -- Virtual Storage Manager 5, the previous version 4 and 4e -- function together seamlessly. Also supporting storage solutions is Sun's Managed Operations for Storage service, offered through the network of partners, which provides data and storage management and monitoring through remote backup and restore.

NEXT: Sun's upcoming new file system, a service to complement its security offerings and Project Honeycomb.

Sun said it will also release in June a new file system called Solaris ZFS 1.0, which will be part of an update to Solaris 10. ZFS 1.0 is the first 128-bit file system and is designed to assure data integrity by correcting file content that may have become corrupted. The new file system also eliminates the need for a volume manager, which promises to have a significant impact on availability. Sun also plans to announce a readiness planning service in coming weeks to complement its security offerings, including the recently launched crypto-ready T100 Enterprise Tape Drive, which incorporates device-independence and an encryption-key management station for security and automation capabilities.

One other project on the horizon is Honeycomb. While vague on details, Sun describes the offering as the first programmable storage system, incorporating Solaris APIs, extensible metadata and query, and application awareness for divvying parts of applications between the system and the storage appliance. Eventually, Sun expects customers will also be able to run code from within the system, said Fidelma Russo, vice president of product development in the data management group. Honeycomb essentially blurs the line of where an applications lives, enabling pieces that should reside near data to do so, while other pieces reside in storage. With Honeycomb will come a new category of a secondary storage device for optimized throughput, density and cost savings.When asked about benefits of the new offerings to the partners, Sun pledged continued support of channel through its standard discount pricing and programs.

"Rumor has it that the new CEO is not going to give much more headcount," McNealy said in jest. "So you can count on us working those partners more than ever."

Along with the product announcements, McNealy made frequent reference to his new role at the helm of Sun Federal, and how the company's approach ideally suits public-sector customer.

"Right now, when government buys, they add up the cost of A and the cost of B -- A being the cost of acquisition, and B being ongoing cost," he said. "But the cost of C dwarfs the cost of A and B combined; and that's the barrier to exit. Vendors are locking [customers] into proprietary technologies that often have a shelf life of banana...[As a result] some great museum pieces are still running across government. We have to be migrating from the old world to the new. It's never easy, but the payoffs are huge."

The company made note of a number of key partnerships with government resellers and systems integrators, including GTSI and Raytheon. Specifically, the Raytheon Integration Center now offers a solution for disaster recovery and continuity of operations based entirely on Sun technologies.0

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