Only 10 months after Sun Microsystems appointed David Yen as a trouble-shooting chief for its storage division, it has switched him out of the role.
Yen is going back to where he came from, which is the microprocessor side of Sun’s business (see separate story). He is being replaced by Jon Benson, former VP of tape engineering at Sun, and a veteran of Storage Technology.
The company has also moved a number of engineering staff out of the storage division, and into its server business. Sun will not say how many staff are being cut from storage, but says that number is small, and insists that the movement is just an adjustment of resources.
The movement and the fact that the new storage chief is a tape engineer will very likely re-kindle the persistent rumors that Sun is negotiating to sell off its disk business to Hitachi Data Systems – a rumor that Sun has categorically denied more than once.
Rumors that Yen was to leave his post were circulating earlier this week, at which time Sun insisted that David Yen is not leaving the company. That statement proved to be correct, although economical with the truth.
Yen was put in charge of the storage division last May, only a couple of months after Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz took his job. At that time Sun said nothing about Yen’s position only being a temporary, troubleshooting role. Yesterday however the company attempted to paint the picture exactly as that.
This is quite a good time for a change. David has been with us for a year. The [storage product] roadmaps needed a change, and now they are much more sensible, said Sun’s storage marketing vice president Nigel Dessau.
Those roadmap changes have involved a lot of product pruning. Under Yen’s leadership Sun has axed its Pirus-inspired 6920 virtualization system, abandon its plans to develop a home-grown Open Systems version of its VSM VTL, and stopped selling its SVA mainframe disk arrays except as part of a VTL package.
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau said that Yen will have earned his keep simply by exercising the political will needed to cut those projects, and overall said that Yen had been broadly successful.
It’s like The Titanic — you can’t turn this thing around on a dime, Babineau said.
Sun also launched its all-ATA Thumper disk array during Yen’s storage stay.
Thumper hasn’t been a failure. It’s had some success, Babineau said. The launch of Thumper and the rationalization of Sun’s other disk products around what are mostly OEM products may explain the transfer of storage engineers to the server division.
Sun probably lost a little bit of their [StorageTek-originated] tape leadership, but they’re still very competitive there. Now they just need somebody to jump start the disk business, or maybe try to get other things like their Honeycomb disk archive selling, Babineau said.
Sun was not able to say what Benson’s plans are for its storage division, and could not offer an interview with the tape engineer, as he is on vacation this week.