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Sun revamps storage leadership

The company's data storage division, which has struggled over the past year, is getting fresh blood, including new engineering and marketing leaders.

Sun Microsystems' data storage division, which has struggled over the past year, is getting fresh blood in its leadership ranks.

On Tuesday, Sun announced several management changes to its network storage division, which Sun Executive Vice President Mark Canepa continues to lead.

Fidelma Russo, most recently vice president of advanced storage systems development at rival EMC, is joining Sun storage as vice president of quality engineering. Andy Ingram, who has led marketing organizations in Sun's server, processor and software groups, will replace Kathleen Holmgren as vice president of marketing for the storage unit. Holmgren will become vice president of product line management.

Balint Fleischer, the storage unit's chief technology officer, has also been made a vice president and given additional management duties, Sun said.

Sun, famous for selling server computers, has been weathering financial troubles. The performance of the storage unit has been rocky as well, according to analysts.

"Their execution has been dismal in the last few years," said Arun Taneja, founder of research firm Taneja Group.

Sun's share of the worldwide market for disk storage systems fell to 7.7 percent in the second quarter of this year from 8.4 percent in the second quarter of 2002, according to research from IDC. Competitors Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell, Hitachi and Network Appliance all gained market share during that period. Sun's overall disk storage system revenue also dropped nearly 12 percent year over year, to $365 million, according to IDC.

Sun, though, said things are improving in its storage business. Citing IDC figures, Sun said its overall storage revenue grew 22 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year, while the overall market declined almost two percent. Sun also said IDC statistics show that it gained market share in disk storage systems for computers that use the Unix operating system.

Fleischer said that since 2001, the storage unit has brought in additional technologies by acquiring companies such as Pirus Networks, which specialized in software that enabled disparate storage devices to function as parts of one system. Sun storage has also broadened its portfolio to include low-end, mid-range and high-end offerings, he said.

"We have made great progress over the last three years," Fleischer said.

Taneja said he's seen positive signs from Sun's storage unit over the last year. One is a willingness to resell high-end storage systems designed by Hitachi Data Systems, he said. Taneja also applauded the new management changes. He said external marketing was not a strength for Holmgren, whereas product line management is a good fit. "I think she's much better (suited) for that type of position," he said.