Sun Microsystems has introduced a new low-end Sun StorageTek ST2500 disk array at the Storage Networking World conference, continuing its pursuit of small to medium businesses.

In addition, Sun unveiled partitioning capabilities for its StorageTek SL8500 enterprise tape library, new "crypto-ready" encryption features to its Sun StorageTek T10000 Ficon tape drive, the availability of Sun Virtual Tape Library Plus, and support for LTO 4 Fibre Channel drives for its SL8500, L1400 and SL500 tape library systems, which will be available later in the second quarter.

Currently available and starting under £5000, the ST2500 is Sun's first serial-attached SCSI (SAS) storage array and comes in three, dual-controller configurations, including 4-port Fibre Channel, 6-port SAS and 4-port iSCSI. However, the iSCSI-based version of the ST2500 will not be released until the middle of the year, and serial ATA disk support will not be available for the modular disk array until sometime around mid-2007, according to Nigel Dessau, senior vice president of storage marketing at Sun.

The ST2500 can house up to 36 drives, offers 1 Gbyte of cache memory and comes with Sun StorageTek's packaged Common Array Manager software to enable application-oriented provisioning. PCI-X and PCIe SAS host bus adapters are also being rolled out to support the ST2500 array.

Dessau said that Sun is potentially eyeing a further downsized and less-costly disk array option than the ST2500, but declined to elaborate.

Sun's aggressive push to woo midsized and smaller companies running on commodity hardware into its storage, server and Solaris operating system products was evidenced last week when the systems company began donating parts of its storage source code free to developers at

Mark Lemmons, chief technology officer at Denver-based Thought Equity Motion, is using Sun's SL8500 as the backbone of his storage area network with almost 800TB of storage. With his company upgrading from Sun's smaller L700 tape library, its SL8500 houses digitised archives of film and video within the company's heterogeneous IT environment made up mostly Sun and Linux servers.

"We are a small company, but we have data needs that exceed very, very large companies," said Lemmons. "I needed to take storage out of the mix for us as a factor. When you're adding thousands and thousands of [video] clips per week, it's hard to keep up."

Although he said he is generally happy with how the SL8500 has performed, Lemmons said he would like to see Sun enhance the tape library's management features with HSM integration for file system awareness capabilities so that high-end video and film applications could be automatically moved into his archive.

"To get [the data] into the archive, I'd have to take that LTO tape, restore the data and then re-ingest it in, which is basically silly to me. What's great about my archive is that it's very sophisticated, and it's bad because it's very sophisticated," added Lemmons.

The Sun T10000 Ficon tape drive equipped with crypto-ready features has a starting price of $44,000 (£22,000). The Sun Virtual Tape Library Plus starts at $135,000 (£67,000) for a highly configured model.