Sun Microsystems Inc is to open the doors to its annual StorageTek Forum user conference, and attempt to calm worried customers that its merger with Storage Technology Corp is going well.
But the company is ignoring customary vendor practice by not making any product announcements at the show, which are usually made to reinforce any impression of active product development.
Instead, Sun will announce that it has combined its own storage partner program with the former program of StorageTek, and will do its best to stress the customer benefits of a successful program, in terms of effective and cooperative joint support.
This is different from other programs, because we’re focused on the customer, said Sun’s director of market development Gastao De Figuredo. We’ve leveraged a lot of the work that had been done with the [StorageTek] Tek Direct and Tek Alliance programs, and we’ve added components, Figuredo said.
The extra components include a promise to give priority to program members’ product in its qualification laboratories, discounts on Sun products for members laboratory use, regular and comprehensive meetings with partners, and the appointment of executive-level Sun staff as sponsors of partners. So far ten partners have been signed up, including EMC, Symantec, HP and Oracle. Others will come, Sun said.
Since Sun made its $4.1bn purchase of StorageTek last year, it has swapped out the senior management of its storage division, merged its storage functions into its server business, and cancelled delivery of what was to be StorageTek’s key VSM Open virtual tape library.
Sun has also seen several former very senior StorageTek executives leave the company, and sources close to Sun have said there has been much friction between senior Sun and StorageTek staff.
Last month, when IDC issued its estimate of third-quarter shares of the external disk market, it said that Sun has yet to see any significant, organic boost to its sales as a result of the merger.
Also last month, rumors circulated widely that Sun is negotiating to sell all or part of the StorageTek business to Hitachi Ltd. Coming less than a year after the original acquisition closed, such as move might surprise many. Analysts did not, however, write it off as a possibility.
One explanation may be that Sun is considering the sale of the StorageTek tape business, and will retain what it most wanted from the acquisition, which was StorageTek’s sales force and services organization.
But De Figueredo said: Tape is a core competency of Sun Microsystems. We have roadmaps in place for our tape products that we’re happy to discuss with customers that’s a pretty good indication of the future of tape at this company.