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Sun complements blade platform with new storage suite

Sun Microsystems is attacking the entry level by rolling out a NAS system, a Fibre Channel array and a tape autoloader designed to complement the company's blade computing platform.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has given rise to a set of storage products designed to fit into blade computing environments -- an offering that, according to one analyst, is a harbinger of things to come.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced a new storage product line based on blade computing technology. The company has rolled out the StorEdge 3310 NAS system, the StorEdge 3520 Fibre Channel array and a new tape autoloader, all aimed at the low end of the storage networking market.

According to Yankee Group analyst Jamie Gruener, Sun is trying to weave together its N1 architecture strategy.

"What they're trying to achieve here is to get at the lower end of the storage array market. They're targeting what I call the 'up-to-12-drives' part of the market, where cost is a huge component," Gruener said.

Gruener said Sun has aggressively positioned itself with competitive pricing. "They're positioning themselves to do damage with servers, too," he said, added that Sun's strategy around blade computing and entry-level storage is indicative of a larger trend. "There is going to be a lot more coupling of servers and storage," Gruener said.

Bill Groth, director of product marketing for Sun storage, said the company is in the midst of its most extensive product line refresh in years.

"This is a further execution around our entry-level 3000 family," Groth said. "What we're really trying to do is take entry-level features and give them flexibility. We're taking enterprise features and merging them down."

Groth said the 3310 NAS system is designed to complement the blade server platform Sun is rolling out. The 3310 NAS is a 2U-high, 12-drive system that can scale up to 2.5 terabytes (TB). The 3310 starts at $18,995.

Groth said the 3310 will be offered for entry-level NAS connectivity. It will be packaged with Sun's blade servers and also sold as a standalone product.

Sun has also debuted the 3510 Fibre Channel storage array, which competes with systems like IBM's FastT 200 and EMC's Clariion CX200 array.

The 3510, which is the biggest array in the 3000 family, has up to 8 Fibre Channel ports, transparent controller failover and scales up to 5.2 TB in a 6U, 36-drive configuration. Sun said the 3510 is aimed at storage consolidation without switches and the capability to connect to SANs. The array starts at $22,995.

The former president of Pirus Networks, Rich Napolitano, who is now at the helm of Sun's data services platform group, said that Sun's sometimes confusing N1 strategy is really about the entire data center.

"It's about simplifying the network, servers and their applications and storage. We provision and virtualize the storage subsystems to fulfill their I/O needs," Napolitano said. He said Sun hasn't "reconciled" all of its jargon yet. "While the messaging might not be right, the engineering is," he said. Let us know what you think about the story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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