Sun launches midrange storage arrays

Sun Microsystems announced a new family of external storage arrays Thursday to compete with Hewlett-Packard and IBM for midrange business customers.

The Sun StorageTek 6140 and 6540 modular arrays are the first products to be released under the combined brand name, created in 2005 when Sun acquired StorageTek.

Sun plans to add two more products to the line within six months, said Paula Phipps, a marketing manager at Sun, in Santa Clara, California.

When the first modular -- or distributed -- external storage array products hit the market about 15 years ago, they were appropriate only for small business applications, she said.

Today external storage is a $12 billion market as measured by annual hardware sales alone. Modular storage still costs half as much as mission-critical models, but Sun says its new arrays have the reliability to support the unpredictable growth plans of midrange and small businesses as well.

To provide a clear path for upgrades by those customers, all the products within this new family will share a common design for storage modules, array management, and data services.

The 6140 is a 4Gbps Fibre Channel array designed for both direct attached and SAN-attached storage. It offers 4GB of cache and a top capacity of 112 500GB SATA drives, for 56TB of storage. The system is designed for users such as telephony service providers, who demand high rack density and quick deployment.

The 6540 has a similar design with a 16GB cache and capacity of 224 disk drives, for 112TB maximum. As a high-end system, it is designed for database-driven applications from Oracle and SAP, or for high performance computing tasks with large data sets, such as weather and seismic modeling.

Sun will pitch its 6540 against competing products from HP, IBM, EMC, and Hitachi Data Systems.

The new product line will simplify the combined product catalogs of Sun and StorageTek. The 6140 will replace the FlexLine 210 and 240 arrays and the StorEdge 6130, while the 6540 replaces the FlexLine 280 and 380.

Sun is selling the 6140 now, starting at $25,000 for a 2.5TB system, while the 6540 will be available within 30 days, starting at $85,000.

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