It may be cloudy at Sun, but all is clear at Spectra

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A myriad of mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies in the backup and archive hardware market has made customers feel they are on thin ice when making long-term hardware investments. The latest, and potentially most dramatic, the Oracle acquisition of Sun, is affecting the set of customers who already had to endure the buy-out of StorageTek by Sun. This same set of customers is once again faced with questions surrounding product roadmap, support contract costs, and product upgrade availability. They no longer are doing business with a storage hardware innovator; instead they are forced into doing business with a server/database innovator. The idea of an acquisition of Sun by Oracle just may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on the customers’ willingness to continue to go with the change with no voice in the direction of their products.
As a vendor who has competed in the tape business with Sun/STK for over a decade, we truly don’t know how everything will shake out. However, market analysts are stating that Oracle will let go of between 10,000 and 15,000 Sun staff in the first two years. They might even spin off parts of Sun’s hardware and software business following the acquisition. In the mean time, while customers and the industry wait to see if the European Commission clears anti-trust concerns and then will begin waiting to find out the strategy for the disk and tape business at Sun, Spectra Logic is working closely with an ever growing advisory panel of Enterprise, Broadcast and HPC customers to develop next generation products and features.
And what about innovation at Sun? The STK portion of the Sun business has not released a hardware product in years. The feature roadmap has become sparse and it seems more products are being put into the “end of life” category than invested in. At Spectra we are investing in new tape library systems that deliver fast, affordable, reliable and power efficient storage for growing compliance, backup and archive data sets. These tape libraries are not your father’s or Sun’s tape libraries. These systems have been boldly moved into a new frontier of expectations for tape to be intelligent, fast, reliable and affordable. Sun/STK has been left behind on the innovation frontier as they dealt with business process and strategy integration. Not product development.   
Spectra has already won a number of customers who were unhappy with the service and lack of product innovation following Sun’s acquisition of StorageTek. And at Spectra Logic, we believe that with a second disruptive acquisition, Sun is likely to continue to lose mid-tier and enterprise customers to companies like Spectra Logic and IBM.  And in the very high end of the market, where Spectra is the only alternative to Sun for very large tape systems (think over 10,000 slots of storage), Spectra is in a leadership position to offer the only alternative to Sun to fill large storage system customer needs.

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