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11/2/2005
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Sun Unveils Encrypted Tape But Remains Cryptic About Storage Future

Although the T10000 enterprise tape drive is a follow-on to StorageTek's 9940B tape, Sun did not elaborate further on its storage plans in the wake of its integration of StorageTek.

At Forum 2005 in Washington this week, Sun Microsystems is launching a new enterprise tape drive with data encryption.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, however, won’t be taking advantage of that stage to shed some light on its storage plans in the wake of its integration of StorageTek. For the past 16 years, the Forum event was StorageTek's annual user conference.

Sun on Tuesday introduced the T10000 enterprise tape drive, a follow-on to the 9940B tape drive the company inherited from StorageTek. Dave Kenyon, director of enterprise tape automation at Sun, said the T10000 offers 500 Gbytes of native capacity, or about 2.5 times that of the 9940B. Throughput was increased four times to 120 Mbytes per second, with compression of up to three times or four times possible. The T10000 also includes an optional encryption feature that automatically encrypts the data as it’s being written to tape.

Because the T10000 tape cartridges use a new tape media, the drives are not backward-compatible with previous technologies, Kenyon added. The drives are expected to ship in limited amounts by year-end, with quantity shipments starting in the first half of the year, he said. The Fibre Channel version lists for $37,000 and a FICON version for $44,000.

Kenyon gave few details about the Sun’s storage road map since the company’s acquisition of StorageTek. At the entry level, Sun will continue to offer two tape automation appliances from Milpitas, Calif.-based Quantum, including the C2, a 2U autoloader, and the C4, a 4U, two-drive tape library, he said. In the midrange, Sun will continue to sell the full range of StorageTek libraries that it carried under an OEM arrangement since mid-1999.

About the only change in the lineup will be in Sun's midrange disk arrays, the legacy Sun model 6130 and the legacy StorageTek model FlexLine 240, both of which are based on the same controller from Milpitas, Calif.-based Engenio Information Technologies. Randy Kerns, Sun’s vice president of strategy and planning, said the arrays only differ in the metal case and in the drive mounting hardware. They will continue to be sold until they are replaced by a new model in the first half of next year.

Kerns didn’t say whether the new model would be OEM'd from Engenio. "I probably shouldn't comment at this time. But we've had a long, successful relationship with Engenio,” he said. Sun's enterprise array relationship with Hitachi Data Systems will remain unchanged, according to Kerns.

Though Forum attendees may not learn much about Sun's storage plans, many of them are getting exposed to a wider range of Sun solution providers than they may have seen before, Kerns noted. Exhibiting at Forum are solution providers such as AdexisColumbus, Ohio; Alliance Technology Group, Hanover, Md.; Arsenal Digital Solutions, Cary, N.C.; Avnet Partner Solutions, Tempe, Ariz.; Datalink, Minneapolis; GMRI, Manassas, Va.; Marzik, Lanham, Md.; MSCI, Downers Creek, Ill.; Net Source, Littleton, Colo.; SANZ, Englewood, Colo.; and Vortechx, Red Bank, N.J.

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