Sun Microsystems is buying StorageTek for $4.1 billion.

The acquisition is part of Sun's strategy to help customers "free up time and dollars to focus on compliance, architectural integration, security and the bottom line," it said.

Sun targeted its storage product line as a cause for weak financial results in April. It reported a net loss of $61 million for the quarter, and missed analyst expectations. Company executives said one problem was that the rate at which customers purchase Sun's storage products along with servers had dropped over the last three quarters. Sun competitors such as IBM have been selling storage devices with servers, but Sun has lagged.

Even though Sun created the NFS (network file system) protocol used in the NAS (network attached storage) market, it is widely recognised as not having matched the success of IBM and HP at selling storage products with servers.

StorageTek and Sun have had a close relationship for a while. StorageTek has an OEM deal with Sun that started in 1999. Sun has been StorageTek's largest OEM partner, offering StorageTek libraries under Sun's own StorEdge brand.

The products and services currently offered by Sun and StorageTek complement each other and will form one of the most comprehensive storage and data management portfolios in the industry, said Sun.

Sun currently offers a line of storage and networking products that includes the StorEdge 6920 storage system and a platform for virtualisation and data services on almost any vendor's storage system.

StorageTek has launched a new line of data protection and intelligent archive products including its Storage Resource management software and virtual tape systems.