Sun has announced organisational changes in its storage business. David Yen moves across from heading up storage to leading a new Sun Microelectronics organisation. It is charged with making more out of Sun's intellectual property such as OpenSPARC. Prior to heading the storage organisation he had a microelectronics background; he used to be executive VP of processor and network products. This new post fits his experience very well indeed.

To take his place as head of Sun Storage Sun has termed to long-term StorageTek veteran Jon Benson, who is currently VP for tape engineering. He becomes the senior VP Storage and now reports directly to Sun CEO Jonathan Schwarz, as does David Yen. Many StorageTek people, current and past, will think him a worthy and highly-regarded figure, well-equipped to take on the role.

At the same time some storage engineers, who had worked on the development of products such as Honeycomb and advanced network-attached storage, with John Fowler's Systems group, are moving across to that group and working directly in it.

Background

So David Yen returns to what we might characterise as his first love. While at Storage he had helped get the product roadmap and product engineering pointed in the right direction. Ironically, back in the mid 1990s there was then a Sun Microelectronics business. Its purpose was selling Sun's SPARC chips, motherboards and other microelectronic products. This organisation lost its separate identity when Sun found it impossible to maintain a SPARC OEM revenue-generating business.

Now Sun believes there is enough attractive IP in its SPARC area, with multiple threads and multiple cores, to make a SPARC OEM business attractive once again. The Microelectronics group will oversee the developments in network, cryptography and high-performance computing and serve as a supplier to Sun's existing Systems businesses, in addition to serving OEM customers across the globe.

Jonathan Schwarz said: "With numerous successes including the success of our UltraSPARC T1 processors fueling the growth of our chip multi-threaded servers, the tapeout of our Rock processors defining new terrain in high-productivity computing, and innovations like Project Neptune opening entirely new markets for our technology, now is the time to fuel that same success with our Microelectronics products. As with our software, decoupling our silicon from a strict reliance on Sun's systems raises our profile and opportunity globally."

There have been rumours that David Yen was not happy with running the storage business, that he might leave Sun altogether and take up a teaching post. He spent just ten months in post, being appointed in May, 2006. Although he has indeed left the storage business, it is to head up, in effect, a start-up organisation within Sun.

In fact, two years on from the bringing together of Sun and StorageTek, the company is now confident enough to put its storage destiny in the hands of a StorageTek man through and through. Prior to the coming together Jon Benson was a StorageTek VP and general manager of automated tape solutions. His responsibilities then included the highly successful StreamLine library product range. In fact he holds several patents relating to these products. Both men, David Yen and Jon Benson, seem extremely well-fitted for their new roles.

Moving the relatively few storage engineers who worked on Honeycomb and, presumably, the X4500 to the systems group makes sense as these products are not seen as pure storage. They are hybrid servers with lots of storage and specialised software. Interestingly HP takes the same tack. Its Neoview business intelligence product is also not in the main HP StorageWorks organisation.

Sun thinks that, by leveraging the expertise and processes used to build servers alongside Solaris, Sun is positioned to build innovative, compelling and competitive products for the storage markets.

Schwarz said: "Only Sun has the ability to span the mainframe environment, with our legendary SL8500 libraries and crypto-ready T10000 tape drives, all the way through to the emerging market for open source NAS appliances, via the Solaris/ZFS-based Sun FireTM x4500. We fully intend on leveraging those assets as we continue to raise our profile and presence in the global market for storage products."