Pirus acquisition boosts Sun’s storage initiative

As it looks to fill the gaps in its storage portfolio and drive its N1 vision of network data centres, Sun Microsystems has acquired Pirus Networks.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  December 4, 2002

|~||~||~|As it looks to fill the gaps in its storage portfolio and drive its N1 vision of network data centres, Sun Microsystems has acquired Pirus Networks.

The vendor’s aim is to provide customers with a comprehensive infrastructure solution, which is easy to manage and open to all operating systems. As such, Pirus’ knowledge and multi-protocol intelligent storage platforms for open environments will significantly enhance Sun’s ability to execute this vision.

“N1 is all about making our customers’ lives easier when they deploy their IT infrastructure. As part of that what we need to do is take the storage element of the infrastructure and integrate it into that N1 vision,” says Paul Gullett, director of storage technologies, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

“The Pirus acquisition really addresses that issue — how to take the storage element and make better use of it, so as customers move forward they have an infrastructure that is easy to manage,” he adds.

Gartner Group also believes that the Pirus acquisition adds serious weight to Sun’s position in the storage market. The research group suggests the deal strengthens the vendor’s ability to deliver storage connected to its own servers and moves Sun from a “bit player in early 2001 to a competitive storage vendor.”

“Sun has consistently seen the evolution of network attached storage as the cost effective solution for server storage in the long term. The personnel and technology acquired with Pirus should enable Sun to further execute on this path and deliver a multifunction block/file integrated vision,” says James Opfer, Gartner Group.

Block/file capabilities and virtualisation are also key to Sun’s N1 vision and architecture for network data centres. As users’ storage infrastructure continues to grow, these functionalities are going to be increasingly important in enhancing management capabilities and moving virtualisation from the storage boxes and servers into the network.

“Customers are beginning to [accumulate] multiple storage platforms within their infrastructure… and they get into a situation where that is difficult to manage and allocate resources to. So we begin to see why this virtualisation needs to be within the network,” says Gullett.

While adding virtualisation capabilities into switches may seem the logical move, Gullett argues that this would detract from their core competencies and also require higher performance operating systems and processing power, which would ultimately transform the switches into servers.

“If you are talking about lots of redundant processing power and a highly reliable operating system on top, you are actually talking about a Sun server,” claims Gullett.

“We can deliver some of these technologies that will provide the switching capabilities within the network and all we need to sit on top of that are the software features that will provide the high performance virtualisation and data services. Consequently, you begin to see how the Pirus acquisition fits in,” he adds.

Although Sun remains tight lipped about the terms of the deal and when exactly it will deliver integrated Sun/Pirus solutions, Gullett says that the acquisition benefits Sun from both a technological and skills perspective.

“Through the acquisition of Pirus we gain access to 115 people that are focused on developing these products and have already been working with customers on these products. Now we can bring their skill set into our engineering organisation and combine it with the Sun employees that have been developing our storage products,” he explains.

“You will see more announcements, probably after December, around how we are going to take this product to market,” Gullett adds.
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