Customers tend to make storage buying decisions around a switch.
That's the theory, anyway, behind a new support agreement between Sun and switch maker Brocade.
Under the new deal, Sun said it will resell, service and support San Jose, Calif.-based Brocade's Silkworm fabric switches in qualified configurations. Sun said the two companies continue to jointly qualify supported storage networking configurations and are working together on software development initiatives.
Last February, the duo announced qualification of the Brocade SilkWorm family of Fibre Channel fabric switches for interoperability with Sun StorEdge T3 and A5200 arrays and Sun Enterprise and workgroup server configurations.
Both companies set up interoperability labs and conducted testing of the Brocade switches with various Sun server and storage configurations.
According to Sun, customers can select pre-tested SAN configurations of Sun storage and Brocade SilkWorm fabric switches and obtain Sun consulting services and support for the entire solution.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun is making its voice heard in the wake of recent, unprecedented interoperability announcements by some of its top competitors in the storage industry.
Last week, competitors EMC, IBM, Brocade, McData Corp., Compaq Computer, and Hitachi Data Systems, joined forces under the auspices of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Support Solutions Forum (SSF) to announce interoperable storage configurations jointly developed and supported by the companies.
While the Sun/Brocade agreement appears to mirror the goal of SNIA's SSF, they're not the same, said Sun's SAN product line manager, Art Beckman. "The goals are similar, but this goes beyond what [the SSF] is trying to do.
Beckman said that this deal with Brocade lets Sun offer direct support and service for Brocade's products while the SNIA SSF establishes a procedure for multiple vendor customer support and not direct support from one vendor for another's products.
Sun called the announcement "ironic," since the six vendors announced an open standards alliance that excludes vendors such as Sun, Hewlett-Packard, Veritas and Cisco. "This is the most proprietary open standard's announcement ever made," said Denise Shiffman, vice president of marketing at Sun's networked storage group.
Sun alleges the six vendors broke from the intention of the SSF by excluding other committee members and turning the announcement into a media event. Sun, who holds a seat on the SNIA's governing body, said it believes the SNIA does not sponsor exclusive forums and initiatives.
HP kept its comments on the SSF to a minimum, saying that the it is "basically a marketing push" and that technically each company's topology is different. "I'm glad to see that the industry is following in the direction HP has been taking for the last 2 years," said Don Kleinschnitz, general manager of the consolidated organization, HP OpenView Storage Management. "When industry standards are set, HP's solutions will fit into those standards."
Sun said it has already entered into similar agreements with companies like Emulex Corp. and JNI Corp. through a program called Solaris Ready for Storage. Under Solaris Ready, storage vendors apply for Sun certification and undergo testing for interoperable storage configurations.Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor
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