Hitachi Data Systems and Sun have entered into an agreement for Sun to resell Hitachi’s high-end storage array and virtualisation platform, according to sources close to the agreement. Sun confirmed it has decided to stop selling its StorageTek 6920 network storage controller and that HDS will support the existing 6920 users.

Sun global communications spokesperson Michelle Parkinson said: “The agreement we've signed with HDS is to provide support services for existing Sun StorageTek 6920 customers. In the last year we reinforced our relationship with HDS by extending our contract around the Sun StorageTek 9900 series. The combined success of the 9900 series and our 6540 array has minimised space in Sun's portfolio for the 6920 and as such we've decided to stop selling the 6900 series.”

The Sun StorageTek 6920 Storage System and its storage virtualization capabilities were the result of Sun’s acquisition of Pirus Networks in 2002, in which Sun incorporated Pirus’ virtualization technology into its 6920 controller. It did not sell well and its discontinuance has long been rumored as has Sun selling off its storage division.

The Hitachi TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP) is the company’s high-end storage offering, which competes with EMC’s Symmetrix DMX and IBM’s TotalStorage DS8000. Sun sells it as the StorageTek 9900 product. The TagmaStore Network Storage Controller (NSC) sits in front of heterogeneous storage devices and virtualizes the storage environment, which is what the 6920 was intended to achieve. The NSC is available from HDS as a separate device, the NSC55, for mid-range storage applications.

Greg Schulz, senior analyst with StorageIO, said that it made sense for Sun to use: "the HDS USP and NSC to address the gap between the higher-end HDS USP models resold by Sun and the LSI/Engenio mid-range models OEM'ed by Sun, not to mention addressing any need for storage system-based heterogeneous storage consolidation and virtualisation.”

HDS is spreading its storage wings. It recently arcquired archiving firm Archivas, and has invested in a partnership with high-end network-attached storage specialist BlueArc. It has recently introduced a 4-node clustered NAS product, using BlueArc technology, that offers more than 1 million IOPs and a 512TB namespace.