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Sun follows rivals with high-end storage

The company introduces a collection of storage products, an important step in catching up with competitors such as EMC.

Sun Microsystems has introduced a high-end collection of storage products, an important measure in catching up to rivals such as EMC.

On Monday, Sun began selling its T3 storage system along with a switch that allows the use of the Fibre Channel standard for building special-purpose networks for handling storage data. These storage area networks (SANs) are powerful but notoriously complicated and expensive.

One of the big problems with SANs is getting different components--disk storage systems, tape storage systems, switches and network cards--to work together. Accordingly, the SAN products from companies such as EMC, Dell Computer, Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard and IBM usually assemble several of these products so customers will be ensured they work together.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun, while growing to dominate the server market, has struggled with high-end storage products. Among its more notable flops was the canceled A7000 storage system.

Sun had offered SAN products before, but only as part of customized services rather than as a standard configuration.

As part of its offering, Sun is selling its StorEdge network FC switch, which is actually a Sun-branded switch from QLogic. In addition, the Sun's SAN product uses QLogic's host bus adapters, the plug-in cards that connect a server to a SAN.

Sun argues that its product will push down SAN prices, but its equipment still doesn't come cheap. For a SAN equipped with 327GB of storage space, the price tag is $97,700, and a 5.2 terabyte configuration costs $481,900.