Sun Microsystems has named Mark Canepa the new head of its
storage products, a move that could mean big changes for the
Canepa had been in charge of Sun's workstations and low-end servers, a
division that caught attention by using aggressive pricing to win market share against
Windows-Intel machines. He replaces Janpieter Scheerder, who retired after
nine years with the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, Sun announced Friday.
Sun's storage products haven't been the rip-roaring success its server
products have been. That wasn't such a big issue in 1999, when
Internet-related companies were giddy with optimism, but many believe
storage products aren't being hit as hard as servers in the current dot-com
Under Scheeder's tenure, Sun has acquired four storage companies to try to
bolster its storage push--Encore,
MaxStrat, RedCape and HighGround Systems. The Encore
products flopped, however, and
the RedCape storage management software called Jiro is held in low esteem by
storage observers. The T3 storage system resulting from the MaxStrat
acquisition, while doing reasonably well, isn't the EMC-killer Sun had
In recent years, storage products have soared in prominence and
profitability, carrying market leader EMC
to growth that was the envy of Sun, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others. Where
storage devices once occupied a lowly position in the shadow of servers,
they are increasingly stand-alone devices with their own features.
Sun, though, has consistently argued against this increasing independence of
storage systems. Chief Executive Scott McNealy often remarks, "Storage is a
feature of the server."
"That is so blatantly, unbelievably misguided," Illuminata analyst John Webster said
of McNealy's belief. "If that's true, how did EMC and StorageTek get to
where they are?"
Webster said he believes Sun storage people have wanted for years to sell
storage products that worked not just with Sun's servers but with others' as
well. "But they seem to be in conflict with Mr. McNealy," he said.
While Sun has subordinated its storage products, IBM has elevated its storage group under
Linda Sanford to the same level as its server group. And HP's top storage
executive, Nora Denzel, believes
HP is becoming a storage company that happens to sell servers rather than
the other way around.
Canepa has the opportunity to change things, Webster said. "I hope he's a
strong advocate for storage within Sun," he said.
In another announcement Friday, Sun united two server groups in the wake of
the departure of John
MacFarlane. He had led the Network Service Provider group, which focused on
servers for telecommunications firms and companies such as Exodus who built computer centers they'd
rent out to others. The group had been in charge of Netra and Cobalt server
That group now has been merged within the System Products group, which
controls the rest of Sun's servers. John Shoemaker, who had led the System
Products group, now will have control over MacFarlane's former dominion as