Sun and EMC, sometime bitter rivals in the storage arena, have announced improved compatibility between Solaris 10 and EMC's storage systems, as well as a new one-call support system.

"Clearly, this was driven by our customers," said Paul Brown, senior director of alliances at EMC. "We have a large installed base who are using Sun's products. Our customers were asking us to collaborate," he explained.

Sun president and COO Jonathan Schwartz agreed: "Customers expect our companies to be working closely together to take care of their most critical issues and we are delighted to collaborate with EMC on support for Solaris 10, and look forward to continuing to grow the overall market."

So now all is rosy
We might wonder why EMC and Sun didn't respond to their customers before now. EMC has been very successful at selling into Sun's customer base. According to the Enterprise Storage Group ,Sun only has a 25 percent attach rate for its own storage when selling Solaris servers. Most server vendors manage 50 percent.

Scot McNealy, Sun's CEO, hasn't been backward in coming forward about wanting to attack EMC's customer base. For example, commenting on the StorageTek acquisition: "These folks can help us move our products into EMC's customer base. In recent years, those customers haven't wanted us at the table, even though we have some products that are superior to EMC's. Now they may listen."

What has changed is that Sun now has multi-vendor virtualisation products, with its resold HDS TagmaStore and its own 6920. Sun needs these to virtualise EMC arrays and it's easier to do this with co-operation while accommodating them comfortably within Solaris' orbit.

Deal details
Under the agreement, whose terms aren't being disclosed, EMC will port many of its software applications for use with Solaris 10 running on both Sparc and AMD's Opteron processors. These include EMC's PowerPath multipath fail-over software, unspecified Documentum enterprise content management software, Legato backup and archiving software, and some Smarts network management applications.

The new co-operative support agreement will allow customers to make one call to either Sun or EMC for help, rather than having to call each company individually. It takes effect immediately and will be offered to all customers without any changes in support fees.

As part of this new deal Sun said it will continue to offer a version of Legato NetWorker as its Sun-branded backup and recovery software. Sun had a long-standing deal with Legato, which was bought by EMC in 2003.

EMC and Sun said they are also beginning to talk about further collaboration in other areas, notably in relation to Sun's Sun Cluster software.