Sun Microsystems this week announced new servers based on its UltraSparc T1 processor but still remained mum on its storage plans. Randy Kerns, the new vice president of strategy and planning for Sun's Data Management Group, spoke with Computerworld last week about the status of the integration of recently acquired Storage Technology Corp. and Sun's plan to address the coming threat to tape systems of holographic storage.
LM: Where does the integration process with Sun and StorageTek stand?
RK: It's going along pretty well. [Sun is] organized along three business-unit lines. We're figuring out organizational structures because the structures inside StorageTek are radically different than [those at] Sun. On the bigger picture, we're working on putting all the products on a single price list, which is amazingly difficult because of the way the two companies work. We're trying to get most of the things done in three months. Of course, things in the [European Union] are taking a little longer because each country has a different set of laws around a merger and acquisition of this size.
LM: Why were storage products missing from your server announcement this week?
RK: We purposely didn't put any storage announcements in there because the announcement was such an overwhelming thing that they would have been lost. In the next quarter, you'll see a few new [storage] products for us.
LM: In the past, Sun has struggled to present a clear vision for its storage business. What is the focus now with StorageTek on board?
RK: Actually, we have the current product road map. And we have a three-year plan. We haven't rolled it out externally yet. We're discussing that and will probably start to talk to people about that in the early part of next year. We have a five-year plan, and we'll keep that quiet for the next two or three [years], until we get closer in on it.
LM: Do you consider holographic storage a threat to the tape products from StorageTek?
RK: Until I see density characteristics of holographic storage that exceed what we have today, I don't see it as a threat. Once I start seeing those characteristics get to a certain point and can say, "This is really cool stuff," then it's a threat. It may become a higher tier in the hierarchy, and it may become another removable media.
LM: Does Sun plan to integrate holographic storage cartridges into the StorageTek tape library systems?
RK: If it makes economic sense, we absolutely will. We're not developing holographic storage ourselves, but if a technology exists from another vendor [that we can] introduce into our library mechanism and it makes economic sense, we'll do that. Holographic [storage] may yield some density advantages. So if those get to the point where it is economical and it is reliable, we'll be in place to capitalize on it.
LM: Is there any work now under way at Sun on adapting the tape libraries to ultimately support holographic technology?
RK: We have some advanced technology work that always goes on. It's not a full development program. It's the type of thing where you get a head start on it so if it looks like it will materialize, you'll be a long way down that road. That's what's going on right now.