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Analysts: Sun to get a bigger piece of the storage market

Analysts and consultants are saying that Sun is certain to become a bigger player in the external network storage market now that the company's flagship storage product � the StorEdge T3 array � offers support for multiple operating systems.

Sun announced yesterday that in addition to Solaris, the StorEdge T3 arrays can now be used in conjunction with the Windows NT, HP-UX, IBM AIX, and Linux system platforms.

"Until now the success of Sun's storage business has been completely one hundred percent tied to the success of the Solaris platform," said John McArthur, vice president of storage research at IDC. "So this gives Sun an opportunity to sell storage off-platform, and just as importantly there are some customers who won't consider the product unless there is support for multiple operating systems."

"A lot of Sun's competitors' storage products support multiple operating systems, so this brings Sun to parity with those people," added John Webster, a consultant with Illuminata. "This is heterogeneous storage for Sun really for the first time."

Sun's announcement is good news for newer companies that have growing storage needs but who also have a need to turn a profit, said McArthur. In the past such companies have had to purchase highly expensive and robust storage systems that went beyond their storage needs. With the modular design of the StorEdge T3, he said, Sun has given those companies the option to slowly build their storage network, one T3 array at a time.

"The T3 starts at a very low cost and some of the competition out there starts at a much higher entry point," said McArthur. "This just gives you an alternative and it also allows you to create a more competitive environment."

Webster agreed that the modular design of the T3 is what differentiates it from many of the cross-platform storage solutions available today. "It's a small building block kind of storage architecture and it's more flexible in some of the ways that you can deploy it," he said.

McArthur said yesterday's announcement also gives Sun more leverage against independent storage vendors such as EMC that have been selling their cross-platform product offerings to Solaris users for a long time. "Sun has sold a lot of servers but the company has still been the favorite target for the independent storage vendors," he said. "Now Sun's got a little ammo to fend them off and go after IBM and HP."

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