The real value of storage products is now in the software that runs them, but Sun is trying to gain market share by using less-expensive open-source software, said Illuminata analyst John Webster.
"Sun wants to be disruptive here," Webster said.
There is some value in the platforms, Webster said. For the kinds of analytics that the FISHworks software delivers, IT managers normally would need to turn to separate system-management software for entire data centers, he said. That kind of detailed data is valuable as enterprises virtualize their resources with VMware, which doesn't provide those metrics itself, he said.
Some enterprises, especially those with large IT departments, are likely to accept the risk of working with relatively new technologies such as Sun's software and the SSDs in exchange for cost savings, Webster said.
"For sure, in 2009, IT budgets will absolutely be under pressure," Webster said.
Sun is moving in the right direction by at least offering appliances that work right out of the box, said analyst Andrew Reichman of Forrester Research. IT departments are conservative when it comes to storage and don't really want to tweak their storage software, he said.
The biggest weakness of the 7000 series appliances is that they can't be clustered in an "n-way" configuration, with many devices linked for high capacity, as some competing products can, he said. The 7000 series can only be clustered in pairs for high availability. But another worrisome issue is Sun's scattershot approach to storage so far, with products from several acquisitions and partners, and now a homegrown, open-source lineup.
"It's just a bewildering portfolio of so many pieces [and] I just don't quite get how it all works together," Reichman said.