Sun will resell some EMC and HP storage gear. It has bowed to customer demand for products outside its existing storage portfolio and set up a new partner programme.

Picked from the existing 64 storage suppliers in Sun's Partner Advantage programme, there are ten specially-favoured suppliers in the new Sun StorageTek Ready program: BakBone, Brocade, Dot Hill, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, LSI Logic, McData, Oracle and Symantec.

The ties are deep: technology provided by the partners has been tested and certified for inter-operability with Sun's storage platforms; sales teams will offer each other's solutions; and both Sun and the partners will provide after-sale support to customers.

Why did Sun choose these ten partners? Sun's StorageTek market development director, Gastao de Figuredo, explained: "We are choosing among the several storage technology partners we are currently working with that are closely related to us, are industry-leading and have a meaningful track records of engagement and solutions with Sun."

De Figuredo said these are ones whose technology is most often requested by customers buying a Sun storage platform. Which products are involved? They weren't listed in any detail. "There are other [partner] products that do not appear in the Sun price list because we couldn’t resell them or OEM them. Yet, those products are compatible with Sun infrastructure, too," de Figuredo said. "This will now enable those companies to go to end-user customers and say, ‘You can get all this stuff from Sun but you can also get this other stuff'."

Sun OEM's drive arrays from Dot Hill, Hitachi Data Systems and LSI Logic. SAN fabric products come from Brocade and McData (itself being bought by Brocade), data protection and volume management software comes from BakBone and Symantec. But it has not resold anything from EMC and HP who are both strong competitors of Sun.

It seems highly unlikely that Sun will resell EMC Symmetrix and Clariion drive arrays given that it OEM's competing products from Dot Hill, HDS and Engenio. It is also unlikely that EMC or HP will resell Sun drive arrays. De Figuredo said Sun partners with these two hardware makers on providing HP or EMC software to run on a Sun StorageTek platform.

That implies EMC Smarts, Documentum, Legato and Dantz products, also HP's AppIQ-derived storage management software. The extent of the partner's commitments to resell Sun storage products has not been detailed.

Sun's enhanced partnership program is being discussed at SunForum 2006 taking place in Las Vegas from Tuesday 10 October through to Thursday 12 October.

Original reporting by Robert Mullins, IDG News Service