Storage giant EMC will announce this week the availability of fibreectivity. channel network hub connectivity for its Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems.
The move will come as a surprise to analysts and rivals, who have predicted the end of EMC's dominance in the storage market because it had been slow to embrace fibre channel Storage Area Network (SAN) technology. The company is pitching its fibre channel strategy directly at Sun's fledgling storage market.
EMC's products will support Hewlett-Packard and Sun Solaris servers in their first incarnation. Fibre channel technology enables faster access speeds to data, and allows storage systems to be located several kilometres from each other and the network they service.
Despite paying lip-service to NT and having OEM partnerships with Unix vendors such as Sequent, and NCR, EMC chose to support non-partner Sun's platform as well as partner HP's first.
The main reason for this is the size of Sun's installed base. "It is the second largest population of servers after the mainframe - but this will upset Sun," said Mike Maunder, marketing director at EMC.
The move could be a blow for Sun, whose fibre channel SAN strategy is not yet complete. Sun told PC Week earlier this month that it was 99% of the way there, but was missing out on the switching technology.
"I'm delighted about (EMC's moves) from a hardware perspective, and I'm really happy to go head-to-head with EMC from a storage perspective," claimed Robert Youngjohns, vice president EMEA for Sun.
ICL is expected to announce an OEM deal with EMC this week. Sun was also believed to have been pitching for the contract.
Sun is putting a huge emphasis on storage, and intends to build up the division until it is larger than its hardware business. "In 10 years' time for every #1 spent on hardware there will be #4 to #10 spent on storage," Youngjohns said.
Users' decisions on which hardware to use will become secondary to their choice of storage system, Sun believes. Vendors who have conceded their storage business to EMC, like HP, have made a major mistake, Youngjohns claimed.
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