Sun Microsystems Inc. and AppIQ Inc. on Monday said the companies had formed a “strategic partnership” where Sun will license AppIQs storage area management technology. The deal will let Suns storage management products to make use of the heterogeneous management capabilities of the AppIQ StorageAuthority Suite.
So whats the back-story?
Despite the fact that Sun Microsystems already had a solid storage management platform in the form of Sun StorEdge Enterprise Storage Management (ESM), this software did not have the ability to manage storage devices outside of Suns product lineup.
Considering that the majority of Sun customers have storage systems outside of Suns product catalog (and out of the management range of Suns ESM), Sun was under immense pressure to deliver a storage management platform to satisfy their customers needs.
“Roughly 50 percent of our customers have primary Sun servers, but are running mixed [from multiple vendors but not Sun] storage.” said Chris Wood, director of marketing and technical sales with Suns Network Storage group. Wood noted that the consolidation of companies during the downturn “had made mixed storage commonplace,” adding this trend had been seen in many of the companys enterprise clients, particularly in the financial markets.
To get the same level of heterogeneous storage management support, Sun would have had to invest a lot of money and effort ironing out relationships with their competitors and establishing interoperability labs.
The licensing agreement with AppIQ gets the technology in Suns hands quicker, and should allow them to go to market with enhanced products in the second half of 2004.
AppIQs support of SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) and CIM (Common Information Model), will allow Sun to link it to ESM quickly via storage standards.
Using these standards, Sun will be able to use the information in AppIQs vendor modules to manage third party storage without adding a lot of complexity to ESM or console screens.
In addition to support for storage-specific standards, AppIQ developer toolkits incorporate a number technologies that are very friendly to Suns strategic vision: Java, J2EE, XML and SOAP.
From AppIQs point of view, the licensing of AppIQ Storage Authority Suite will give them a powerful sales channel and a service and support network.
At the same time, some in the industry might wonder if AppIQs software is so good and standards-based, why didnt Sun just purchase them outright?
Wood said that although Sun knows its own hardware extremely well, the company needed to tap into AppIQs experience with all other storage vendors to strengthen their ESM platform.
Sun decided that AppIQs heterogeneous market presence and its agility to respond to changes in hardware and software platforms would have been jeopardized by an acquisition approach.
While vendors such as IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and EMC Corp., may be willing to work with independent AppIQ to get their products supported, it is doubtful that AppIQ engineers and developers would get the same level of technology access if they were Sun employees.
eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at [email protected]