Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy may call the mainframe an airplane with pedals but such systems remain a big part of Sun's storage business, thanks in part to its acquisition of Storage Technology last year.
So when asked to reconcile McNealy's view with the company's StorageTek business, executives at Sun's quarterly product announcement event here last week chuckled politely and said the vendor was spending millions of dollars buying mainframes for storage-related development.
Prior to the acquisition, about 40 per cent of StorageTek customers used mainframes, the most recent figures executives would provide.
Nonetheless, vice-president of development at Sun's StorageTek unit, Jon Benson, said it's not the hardware that's important; it's the way we tie into those applications.
Indeed, Sun's long-awaited Honeycomb content-addressed storage system, which the company demonstrated, includes embedded search technology that will let application writers offload the search capabilities to the storage system.
Honeycomb, now shipping in limited quantities, would be generally available this quarter, vice-president and chief marketing officer for Sun's data management group, James Whitmore, said.
Sun officials also took time during the event to assure StorageTek users that the company will address their concerns about the combined firm.
Scott McNealy, who gave up his CEO role but still serves as chairman of Sun's board, said last week the company could get cost synergies from its integration of Storage-Tek, including combining 160 redundant field sales and support offices.
Sharon Fisher contributed to this story.