Sun Combines Server, Storage Business Units

by Andy Patrizio

The server and storage businesses will combine internally, but customers will continue to see two separate groups.

Sun Microsystems announced Monday it would join its server and storage businesses internally, while maintaining a separate sales and marketing face for the two groups.

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Sun executives determined it made sense to put both servers and storage all under one roof because the two groups tend to frequently work together, often hand-in-hand.

"Now, why do I believe combining groups make sense? It's a recipe that works for us," Sun CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz wrote in a blog post, citing the combination of the high-performance SPARC server group with the x86 group. "Can you tell where the server stops, and the storage starts? I can't (and in a virtualized world, it's not terribly important)."

John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun Systems, will manage the combined unit. He echoed Schwarz's point during a later conference call with Jon Benson, senior vice president of storage.

"The distinctions between what constitutes a computer server and what constitutes a computer storage system and what constitutes fiber band are going down," Fowler said. "We decided to combine these groups into a single group to facilitate that."

Despite the internal restructuring, Sun will retain separate sales and marketing teams.

"The customer-facing representatives will remain intact, but behind that, we're leveraging all we have at Sun," Fowler said. "We'll be taking advantage of the leverage we'll have when we have a conversation to mix those two."

He added that Sun's road map remains unchanged and there will be no reduction in headcount, despite recent rounds of job cuts at the company to do just that.

Rather, Fowler said, the move is about putting the engineering teams and intellectual property of the two groups under one roof to advance storage technology.

"We have seen a lot of changes in disk storage in general because of the ability to use ZFS and price performance," Fowler said. "We expect the disk storage market to be the area that evolves the most rapidly in the next few years."

Pund-IT principal analyst Charles King said the move makes sense. "The storage organization of the company is not huge to begin with, but the fact of the matter is the server and storage organizations tend to communicate with the same people, so having them within the same group makes a lot of sense from an economies of scale standpoint," he told InternetNews.com.

King added that by keeping two related groups working closer in concert, the move would help Sun's efforts in a hotly competitive market.

"What the company really needs to do, and appears to be trying to do, is work in a more cohesive manner," King said.

This article was originally published on InternetNews.

This article was originally published on Tuesday Oct 2nd 2007
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