Sun's server, storage merger clouds technology direction: analyst

Sun's server, storage merger clouds technology direction: analyst

Product changes stalled for 18 months

Sun Microsystems may change its product offerings within 18 months, following a merger of its storage and server businesses into a new group called Sun Systems.

The plans follow a blog posting last week by Sun CEO and president Jonathan Schwartz, which cited a move into a "general purpose world - in which open and general purpose platforms will be the dominant drivers of growth" as a catalyst for the change.

Schwartz said the new business unit will be responsible for aligning the company's server, storage, virtualization, and networking technologies.

The realignment comes about two years after Sun paid $4.5 billion to acquire storage vendor Storage Technology Corp.

IDC senior analyst Grahame Penn said the merger's success will come down to whether Sun can "maintain focus on what are really two separate areas".

"My concern is that they are doing their own thing in a unique way contrary to the industry; they may lose momentum in mainstream market, even though they will be innovative, if the market wants other things," Penn said.

"There is a tendency for the server team to dominate over the storage unit, but we won't know that for about 18 months."

According to Penn, changes will not be seen in Sun products for at least 12 to 18 months because the company has already inked its roadmaps for the next year.

He said his concerns are rooted in the company's history of hastened selling-off of acquisitions, such as Pirus Networks, and recent senior management reshuffles.

Penn said the alignment of Sun's storage and server segments may increase standardization between products, and produce innovative products like Sun's x4500 storage system, but he warned they will have to reduce money lost through acquisitions and disruption by management changes.

While Sun was unavailable for comment at the time of publication, Penn said the merger will affect "background areas" such as research and development, rather than sales and support.

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