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Sun Makes Play For Interoperable Storage

Bluefin compliance key to StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager.
As businesses continue to add more storage and mix systems from multiple vendors, the need grows for effective storage-management software. Sun Microsystems, which has less than 1% of the worldwide storage-management software market, this week makes a play for a more prominent position with its Sun StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager.

The software, priced starting at $15,000, is based on the Common Information Model standard, designed to ensure interoperability among a wide variety of products from different vendors, and will comply with Bluefin, a set of specifications the Storage Networking Industry Association unveiled last week. Bluefin is designed to identify all components on a storage area network.

chartMost storage vendors now write links to competing products' APIs if they want everything to interoperate on a SAN. Initially, Sun's StorEdge ESM will support only its own components, systems it resells from Hitachi Data Systems, and switches from vendors such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. But it will support any Bluefin-compliant product once other vendors support the spec.

The StorEdge ESM provides topology reporting, device configuration, and proactive diagnostics so administrators can catch problems before a SAN goes down. A test version of the software has already saved Charles Sears a lot of time and effort. The manager of research computing at Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science has to handle multiple terabytes of data and wants to move away from homegrown management software. Sun's software is the answer, he hopes. It lets the department concentrate more on its scientific breakthroughs, he says.

Sun still has a way to go before it's a significant vendor in the storage market, says Steve Kenniston, an analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group. But, Kenniston adds, by adopting industry standards, "integration issues for Sun go away, and it will ultimately be easier for Sun's storage to interoperate with other vendors' storage."