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Sun sheds light on StorageTek plans

Mark Canepa, EVP of Sun's storage group, talked with about integrating StorageTek, the future of networked storage and how Sun plans to take down EMC.

Mark Canepa, executive vice president of Sun's networked storage group, sat down with to discuss the integration of StorageTek, the future of networked storage and how Sun plans to take down EMC.

How is the integration with StorageTek [Storage Technology Corp.] going?

Mark Canepa: Our initial estimate was that we'd begin integration about 60 to 90 days after announcing our intention to acquire them June 2. We're on schedule with that. We expect to close Aug. 31 and for day 1 to be Sept. 1.

Where is the StorageTek brand going to fit in when the integration with Sun [Sun Microsystems Inc.] is complete?

Canepa: It's part of our branding strategy -- StorageTek is going to be the Sun storage brand name. We did an analysis and StorageTek was more highly recognized than StorEdge. We thought, why not be pragmatic about it?

So, what's the time frame look like after that?

Canepa: Well, when we acquired Pirus [Networks], it took us about a year and a half to come out with a product, the 6920. New software loads are always being developed with that, too. We talked to Symantec [Corp.] execs, who are three to four months ahead of us with their acquisition of Veritas. We asked them for advice, and our expectation after all that is we might have the pedal to the metal for a year to 18 months before things go back to a dull roar.

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What's your priority area?

Canepa: Revenue synergies, revenue synergies and revenue synergies.

Speaking of Pirus, Sun was one of the first movers in the network-based storage space with that acquisition. Why have so few customers adopted this approach?

Canepa: It's hard. It's why we built the 6920 — kind of a SAN-in-a-box, to anchor it all down, stick it in a cabinet and build the back end. It took a year and a ton of people to design the management interface to hide the complexity.

Will it get easier for users?

Canepa: It'll be awhile before it gets easier.

How do you avoid the integration disasters HP [Hewlett-Packard Co.] saw in acquiring Compaq?

Canepa: I think that the problem with HP and Compaq was that there was too much overlap between the two companies' products. The overlap with Sun and StorageTek is tactical rather than strategic -- corporate overhead, things like, how many lawyers do you need? Field offices, real estate, things like that. StorageTek has 3.3 million square feet of real estate and Sun has 10.5 million square feet. Obviously, we're not going to need all of that. But we don't have two PC lines that do essentially the same thing -- that's a mess to integrate, and that's where HP struggled.

But if you're closing buildings and field offices, that's a big deal for customers. They want to know where to call for sales and support.

Canepa: We have a person from StorageTek managing [office closures]. We're going to be kind of over-communicating about different moves.

Who's running the storage business? StorageTek people? Is Sun going to turn its storage business over to StorageTek?

Canepa: We've retained seven of the top key execs from StorageTek -- in sales, service and three product execs. Right now, all the people we've gone after, we've retained. There are also four or five people on my staff that will be part of the new management team.

As for the storage business, StorageTek has over 1,000 salespeople that are dying to have a bigger pot of stuff to sell. Often, they've had to put StorageTek products with EMC [Corp.] or IBM systems; now they can put Sun's 9000 family in front of customers instead. Customers who are considering StorageTek are already committed to a multi-vendor shop, using Sun doesn't mean a change in strategy for them. We're arming those salespeople with more stuff they can sell. Other stuff we can arm them with includes SAM FS, QFS, and WaveSet -- a Java-based identity management product.

What happens to StorageTek's disk products?

Canepa: We've rationalized all this stuff and will discuss it day one.

You have what appears to be three overlapping archive systems -- IntelliStor by StorageTek and CIS and Honeycomb by Sun. Can you explain the differences between these?

Canepa: Honeycomb is staying, but as far as the IntelliStore and CIS, there are good bits and pieces to both of them, and our product will probably meld those together. People want a policy-driven vault. CIS is basically a box with a couple of servers that you can load up with all kinds of bits to dictate the policy. IntelliStore is based on StorageTek's FlexLine 600, a little box that handles write-intensive activities. StorageTek designed their own little code that's like SAM FS. We're going to marry the two.

And as far as the Honeycomb goes?

Canepa: Honeycomb is designed to be a content access system. So, for example, let's say you store pictures of houses. Honeycomb allows you to say, 'give me all the pictures of white houses'. CIS is really good at storing files based on policies in different places based on cost structure -- Honeycomb's job is to search. Theoretically, Honeycomb could live above CIS.

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