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Sun to put Pirus switches inside arrays

Greased Lightning

ComputerWire logo Sun Microsystems is planning to integrate the hardware it gained with the purchase of smart storage switching start-up Pirus Networks Inc with what it described as "large scale" disk arrays - which is likely to mean the high-end Hitachi Lightning arrays it resells under its own brand.

"We'll take the data services platform and integrate into large scale arrays, and deliver those this year," said Rich Napolitano, vice president of Sun's data platforms group. Napolitano was formerly CEO at Pirus, which was bought by Sun late last year, and now forms that data platforms group.

The "data services platform" developed by Pirus is a device which can host a variety of storage applications, such as virtualization, or replication software.

Napolitano did not say what the advantage of this integration would be to customers, but it presumably would extend one of the benefits of the Pirus hardware he had already cited - the reduction in the number of boxes that IT staff would have to manage. Other than rebadged Hitachi arrays, Sun's largest arrays are its T3 3900 and 6900 devices launched last year. Currently these incorporate virtualization engines licensed from Vicom Corp, which may complicate any integration with the former Pirus technology.

Although the plan is still in place, Sun dissapointed ComputerWire by not formally announcing last week - as ComputerWire had predicted - that it will roll out the formerly Pirus hardware with support from Sun's professional services group this quarter. That plan is still in place. Initially the device will run a virtualization application. Other applications that will run on the hardware include CFS and NFS file systems, dynamic multiporting, and synchronous and asynchronous replication. Napolitano would not say when these will ship, other than that "some" will do so this year.

Before Pirus was acquired by Sun, it described its product as "the industry's first storage utility switch," but Sun is now calling the product an "application platform." ComputerWire last week (ComputerGram 09 Jan 03) said that Sun has changed the label because it does not want its new hardware being compared to the smart switches of Brocade Communications Systems Inc and Cisco Systems Inc, because those companies' reputations eclipse Sun's in storage and networking.

Napolitano appeared to be responding to ComputerWire's comments when he told a storage networking conference held by RBC Capital Markets in New York last week: "A lot of people want to talk about switching, but it isn't about that, it's about data services." He added: "Is this box a switch? Well it has a crossbar switch architecture - but so have all the servers that Sun has shipped in the last four years."

Later he told ComputerWire: "You can call it a switch if you want, but the real point is data services." © ComputerWire

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