Storage shake-up

Analysts have cast doubt on Sun’s recent US$4.1billion acquisition of rival StorageTek, saying that the information lifecycle management (ILM) play faces a struggle to yield benefits.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  June 5, 2005

Analysts have cast doubt on Sun’s recent US4.1billion acquisition of rival StorageTek, saying that the deal faces a struggle to yield benefits. Steve Schuchart, senior analyst, enterprise infrastructure at Current Analysis sees the deal as a risky information lifecycle management (ILM) play. “Managing information during its entire lifecycle from creation to long-term archive or deletion has become a hot button topic for companies in the face of ever increasing government regulations that require specific data retention,” says Schuchart. “In its current forms, it is at best crude, cumbersome, and a nightmare to implement but Sun is hoping that with the technology and expertise acquired from StorageTek it will be able to make a significant market play in the future,” he adds. However, Current Analysis says that Sun must outline more specifically how ILM and security can be a successful play for the company when nearly every other vendor in the storage market, including EMC and IBM, is walking the same path. “While just about everyone admits that some form of ILM needs to be implemented, so far there is no clear industry direction as to what form ILM will take, or who will emerge as leaders in the ILM marketplace,” says Schuchart. The analyst firm expects the acquisition to have no short term impact and sees blended products emerging no sooner than 18 months after the finalisation of the deal. Sun Microsystems announced its plan to acquire StorageTek last week and says the deal will allow Sun to become a global leader in network computing and data management. The two companies combined sales for the last four quarters stand in excess of US$13bn. The deal is designed to allow Sun to offer customers the most complete range of products, services and solutions available for securely managing mission-critical data assets. By bringing a systems approach to ILM, Sun says it will be well-positioned to help customers better manage their growing privacy, security, compliance and policy requirements. Sun is talking up the combined expertise of both companies, saying that they have nearly 60 years of experience in mission-critical environments. “Sun's technical and financial strength puts us in a great position to act as a consolidator in the IT industry. This acquisition is part of an ongoing strategy to respond to customers seeking to rationalise their data centre purchases - to free up time and dollars to focus on compliance, architectural integration, security and, of course, the bottom line,” says Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer, Sun Microsystems. “With this announcement, Sun solidifies its leadership position, with the highest volume computing platforms, the most comprehensive data and identity management solutions, and when combined with StorageTek, an unmatched ability to earn the confidence of customers as they develop, deploy and manage information assets throughout their entire lifecycle,” he adds. Sun sees its product, services and solutions complementing those offered by StorageTek. For example, Sun sees its StorEdge 6920 storage system, coupled with StorageTek's new line of data protection and intelligent archive products, including its storage resource management software and virtual tape solutions, giving customers the ability to implement ILM infrastructures. Marketing manager for Sun in the region, Graham Porter, was upbeat about the move, seeing it as opening doors for the vendor and fitting in with its overall strategy. “The StorageTek acquisition allows us to get tape storage business in the mainframe sector. We have a presence there already but this gives us a bigger footprint,” says Porter. “It fits with our strategy of going for best of breed. IBM goes it alone while we have built up a network of specialised partners. That’s why we have McData and QLogic on the switching side, Veritas for its NetBackup product, and Hitachi Data Systems for its high-end disks. With the acquisition of StorageTek, we’ve simply moved one of our partners in-house,” he adds.

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