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Sun expands its open storage line, hopes for accelerated growth

Sun is growing its open-storage business, but will it be enough to stave off declines elsewhere?

Despite a recent write-down on the value of its StorageTek acquisition, Sun is banking on updates to its open-storage initiative to drive revenue growth for the company, according to The Wall Street Journal. Is it putting too much faith in storage, and open-source storage at that, to repair its fortunes?

For me, it's not a question of whether Sun's open-storage business is viable, but whether it's big enough to save Sun in time. In other words, as the Journal points out, open storage is growing at a torrid pace, but will it be enough?

Sun's open storage line includes a hybrid server-storage machine called Thumper, introduced two years ago. Sales of such products are a small bright spot for a company beset lately by declining revenue. In the first fiscal quarter ended in September, for example, Sun reported $25 million in open-storage sales -- nearly triple the amount in the year-earlier period -- while Sun's total revenue declined 7% to $2.99 billion. "Certainly open storage is one of the bright spots in the storage industry," says John Fowler, executive vice president for systems at Sun.

It's during times like this that Sun would do better as a private company. It really needs some time away from Wall Street's unblinking eye so that it can turn the ship around.

With initiatives like open storage and open-source MySQL, Sun has demonstrated that it knows how to grow again. The major remaining question, however, is whether it will be fast enough to appease Wall Street. As an open-source proponent and Sun fan, I hope the answer is 'Yes.'