Sun, IBM Hook Up on Mainframe Storage
Sun's entire storage software catalog is now fine-tuned for IBM's System z machines.
IBM and Sun Microsystems, rivals when it comes to selling open-standards enterprise storage systems, have found a patch of common ground on which to collaborate in a re-emerging sector of data storage: mainframes.
Four months after the two tech giants agreed on a proof-of-concept deal for Sun's OpenSolaris operating system to be optimized for use on IBM's System z mainframes, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said March 25 that his company will now begin offering storage software support for IBM's new System z10 servers.
Sun has fine-tuned its entire portfolio of enterprise storage software for the Big Blue System z10s. The package includes the Virtual Storage Manager line of virtual tape, tape libraries, access and capacity tape drives, the Sun StorageTek 9990V and 9985V disk systems, and the Shared Virtual Array family of virtualized disks.
IBM's latest System z operating system, z/OS v1.9, and industry standard interface protocols FICON and ESCON, are also supported in the partnership, a Sun spokesperson told eWEEK.
A major advantage to this cross-platform development deal is that IT managers upgrading their data centers to replace older Solaris servers with a new mainframe will have the option of retaining the familiar operating system to go with Sun's storage applications, in the event that staff isn't yet trained on the new z/OS.
As IBM gains the advantage of offering multiple brands of software for its new high-end hardware, Sun gets an opportunity to sell its software and services as an option with the sale of each System z10.
The StorageTek storage portfolio supported IBM mainframe servers such as the S/390 and others long before Sun acquired StorageTek in 2005.
"StorageTek brought with it a lot of mainframe customers [in the merger with Sun]," Jay Wallace, Sun's marketing director for mainframe storage, told eWEEK. "Sun hasn't talked about it very much until now, but we see the [new] mainframe storage market as a real opportunity going forward."
The mainframe storage business has a huge upside, especially at the high-end, Wallace said.
"A lot of companies [that] invested a lot of time and money in rack-mount servers are revisiting the idea of mainframes, largely because the new ones are much more energy-efficient and easier to deploy than the older ones," Wallace said. "We are encouraged by IBM's interest in our products attaching to the z10. The z10 is at the forefront of mainframe server technology, and we're an innovator in mainframe-attached storage."
For mainframes, Sun recently announced a new enterprise mid-range SL3000 tape library, the fourth generation of the StorageTek T9840 tape drive, and Key Management Station v2.0.