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SPARC History - 2001, July week 3

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Get them while they're fresh

how about buying a storage company for Christmas?
Did you realise there are less than 160 shopping days till next Christmas?

The reason I mention this, so early in the year, is that in previous years the seasonal craze for Playstations, plastic characters from movies like Toy Story, or fads like Pokemon has meant that demand outstripped supply, and many would-be purchasers were left empty handed. And you know how embarrassing it can be explaining why you had to make a last minute subtitution. So, if you've got your eyes set on a nice tasty storage company to acquire it's better to get in early before all the best ones have gone.

We notice a lot of things here at the mouse site, which are too dull for most of you to worry about, but when we start to see patterns, we'll try and let you know.

Now here's an interesting calculation for you, if you're planning to close the year with some more assets under your corporate belt. I think "assets" sounds so much better than "scalps" in a mergers and acquisitions context, don't you?

At the time of writing, about 5 storage companies every week are being acquired, change their name or go out of business.

I expect this trend to accelerate, because the market conditions in the US mean that the whole IT market is a lot more competitive than it used to be, with everyone chasing after an endangered species, called "customers". Also banks and venture capitalists have been feeling the squeeze themselves, and are not so likely to let a company trade on for another 3 months or so in the hope that "things will get better".

If you also factor into this calculation that around a third of the venture capital backed storage startups funded since January 2000, will probably have to be acquired or do IPO's to keep their investors happy, then my estimate is that over 130 storage companies will have disappeared from the shopping cart between now and Christmas, so now's the time to start looking at them, while they're still fresh.

What sort of companies are available? Well storage software companies, RAID companies and VARS seem to head the list, based on historic spending patterns. But really the selection is as wide as the whole industry, and includes semiconductor companies, adapter card companies, fibre-channel switch makers...

No product category is imune.

Now the storage market is in a lot better shape than the PC market. You'd have to be nuts to buy a PC company right now, and we assume that most of them will be left on the shelf and probably end up being recycled as cheap DVD players or buried in the ground as landfill.

You may be thinking:- this is not the thing for you. And who buys all this stuff anyway?

Well companies, which have bought a lot of storage companies recently include:- INRANGE Technologies, LSI Logic and Sun Microsystems. But even staid old EMC has bought a couple. Companies which are profitable and have a lot of cash are the most likely shoppers. You can't use your credit card for this kind of transaction.

If your company may be on the block shortly, you can take a look at who's been buying what in our acquired companies list. Remember they might not want two the same. And if you're planning a bit of empire building before the recession ends and prices go up again now's the time to start looking, before the rush.
And for the rest of us, who are more interested in buying a disk drive than a disk drive company? It will just have to remain a spectator sport.

But the end result will be better products from suppliers who will still be around in the long term. And that benefits everyone.
news about summary
LSI Logic Storage Systems LSI Logic Storage Systems Joins The iPlanet ISV Partner Program
Milpitas, Calif., July 23, 2001 - LSI Logic Storage Systems, Inc. today announced that the company has joined the iPlanet™ ISV Partner Program. Membership in the program will support LSI Logic Storage Systems' initiatives with iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions, a Sun-Netscape Alliance, including TotalNET™ Advanced Server's integration with the iPlanet™ Directory Server.
TotalNET Advanced Server features a unique set of resource consolidation functions including file sharing among heterogeneous computers, centralized administration of shared storage, and consolidated authentication services using LDAP directories such as the iPlanet Directory Server. These features enable Global 2000 companies and government enterprises to minimize total cost of ownership, maximize resource utilization, simplify systems and storage administration, and increase security across networks of computers running many different operating systems.
"This is the solution for any enterprise that needs interoperability with a standards-based directory server, and we're pleased to have an opportunity to leverage key product advancements through the iPlanet partner program to continue to offer an industry-leading solution," said Gerard Meluso, director of business development for LSI Logic Storage Systems. "Within TotalNET, the iPlanet Directory Server also supports single sign-on authentication for many different file types across a network of heterogeneous computer systems."

iPlanet Directory Server information management software already works with LSI Logic Storage Systems' TotalNET Advanced Server resource consolidation software in a fully supported environment. This enables system administrators to easily maintain enterprise-wide resources such as names, addresses and user authentication information in a centralized LDAP-enabled directory. ...LSI Logic Storage Systems profile
Sun Microsystems Sun Microsystems Q4 Revenue Declined 20%

PALO ALTO, CA - July 19, 2001 - Sun Microsystems, Inc., (NASDAQ: SUNW) today reported annual and fourth quarter results for fiscal year 2001, which ended June 30, 2001.

Revenues for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 were $4.00 billion, compared with $5.02 billion in the fourth quarter of the prior fiscal year. Orders for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 were $3.65 billion. Pro forma net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 was $134 million, compared with $717 million for the same period a year ago.

But, despite no growth in Q3, and a 20% decline in Q4, Sun started the year well and was able to report annual revenue grew 16%

For fiscal year 2001, Sun reported revenues of $18.25 billion, up from last year's revenues of $15.72 billion. On a GAAP basis, Sun reported net income for fiscal year 2001 of $927 million compared with $1.85 billion in fiscal year 2000.

"Despite unprecedented economic challenges, during the year we continued to take share from our principal competitors," stated Scott McNealy, Chief Executive Officer of Sun Microsystems. more info ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- Sun is now operating in a paradigm it hasn't seen since the company was founded:- negative growth. At the same time, the competitive situation looks worse than ever. Sun's press releases often quote market share leadership in niches which are so narrowly defined as to be misleading and meangless. Let's look at the realities...

When Sun started out in the early 1980's its main competitors in the minicomputer market were offering underpowered proprietary systems which were over priced. Those companies like IBM, DEC and HP were suffering the double whammy of being under attack by low cost PC clone makers, and their attention span was insufficient to prevent Sun's attack into the datacenter.

Through most of the 1990's Sun established leadership in the mid to high end server market because it had superior products, a good channel strategy and a clear mission, which was understood and believed in by thousands of business partners including ISV's, IHV's and its target customer base. Although the Wintel platform closed the performance gap, and in fact overtook SPARC platforms during 2000, the better established credibility of the Solaris/SPARC platform meant that most dotcoms, unable or unwilling to take the risk of lengthy systems integration, mostly voted their computer dollars for Sun. The fast, high growth in that market lulled Sun into a false sense of security. It stopped looking in the rearview mirror and kept its eyes firmly looking ahead.

In a recession customers spend longer deciding what they want to buy, and that's a disadvantage for Sun with its current product line-up. Until the new generation of SPARC processors comes out, Sun will have to use price, not technology to sell its systems. Sun is no longer the new kid on the block when it comes to servers, and it will have to painfully learn and adjust how to operate in a market in which retaining market share is difficult.

Interphase Inks Distribution Agreement with Arrow North American Computer Products to Offer Intelligent Telecommunications Controllers

DALLAS, Texas, July 18 2001 - Interphase Corporation today announced an exclusive distribution agreement with Arrow North American Computer Products (NACP), a division of Arrow Electronics, Inc., to sell and distribute the full line of Interphase telecommunication controllers.

The agreement is designed to further penetrate significant broadband Internet access and 3G wireless projects with OEMs. The agreement teams Arrow's industry leading capabilities in providing complete system solutions with Interphase's leading-edge telecom hardware and customizable software.

"As we continue to expand our Embedded Computing Solutions portfolio, providing 'first-in-class' telecommunications controllers is key to our strategy," said David Casillo, Vice President, Arrow NACP Supplier Services. "We are excited about our partnership because Interphase products strengthen our ability to provide complete telecom platforms and systems."

Arrow Electronics and Interphase agree the contract effectively utilizes both companies' relationships with key telecommunications customers while expanding efforts into new OEM opportunities. ...Arrow Electronics profile, ...Interphase profile
Syscap Computer Rentals
Syscap Computer Rentals Summer Rental Offer

London, July 18, 2001 - Syscap Computer Rentals plc, Sun Microsystems' leading UK authorised rental partner, is offering upto 33% discount on Sun rentals ordered this month. more info, ...Syscap Computer Rentals profile
Resilience Resilience Applauds Microsoft's Recognition of Five Nines
Continuous Availability Systems from Resilience Corporation use the company's patented Triple Modular Redundant (TMR) architecture. It allows the delivery of fault-tolerant computing that withstands the failure of any active component (including processor, memory, Ethernet, storage, power supplies and fans) without affecting applications running on the system. If a component fails, the system stays online without any loss of data. When convenient, the user simply hot-swaps out the failed module – a process that takes less than one minute. Resilience SPARC-based systems run all Solaris applications and only require simple Solaris skills to administer. Out of the box and running in under 30 minutes, Resilience servers are easy to deploy and even easier to maintain.
Sunnyvale, CA - July 17, 2001 — Resilience Corporation today welcomed Microsoft Corporation's recognition that most IT users now require much higher system availability than any time in the past.

Today, even small companies rely on their websites and business critical applications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's a world where downtime is simply not acceptable. Microsoft® has brought this issue to the forefront with its "99999" advertising campaign.

A different approach from Microsoft "Resilience servers are SPARC-based solutions, so they are not compatible with Microsoft offerings. However, the attention of a company such as Microsoft on this issue validates that Continuous Availability has hit the mainstream," said Denny Olmsted, President and CEO of Resilience Corporation. "Microsoft's advertising campaign has given extremely high visibility to the one issue that our company was founded on – delivering 99.999 percent or better availability. However, there is one major difference in our approaches to five nines: Microsoft talks about it, but Resilience has been delivering it for the past 3 years."

"Mission-critical applications requiring Continuous Availability have long been the domain of mainframe and UNIX platforms. Because our systems are based on Solaris – one of the most stable and tested operating systems on the market – we've taken a big risk out of the equation," said Linda Sarles, Vice President of Marketing for Resilience. "The Resilience approach addresses three of the most critical aspects of availability: providing a fault-tolerant system designed to keep running through any hardware failure, preserving state so that critical data or transactions are never lost, and reducing complexity to minimize the possibility of human error. Since the systems do not require the custom programming necessary for High Availability solutions and are so easy to manage, you don't have to worry about downtime caused by human intervention." ...Microsoft profile, ...Resilience profile

See also:- High Availability SPARC systems

Editor's note:- I had a good laugh when I first saw Microsoft's ads with the 5 9's theme. However, let's remember this is the company which went from no-windows to Windows, and from MSN replacing the Internet, to Internet Explorer. You might have to wait for another generation of programmers to fight their bosses and the ingrained hacker culture before you see fully usable systems with the new paradigm coming out from Redmond though.
Force Introduces State-of-the-Art Gigabit Ethernet Card for Peak Network I/O Performance

SAN JOSE, Calif. - July 17, 2001 - Force Computers today announced the newest member of its family of network I/O solutions, the PMC/Gigabit Ethernet/82543 NIC, which provides state-of-the-art technology for high-speed network input/ output performance.
  • Full-speed, 64-bit DMA bus transfers (with programmable burst size)
  • Large on-die FIFOs (Tx and Rx)
  • Address filtering modes
  • 512KByte User Flash memory
  • 1KByte SROM (for storing Ethernet addresses and system parameters)
  • Five LEDs to indicate full/half duplex mode, transmit/receive activity, speed/link status (at 10, 100 or 1000 Megabits/second)
  • Support for VxWorks® on PowerPC™ and Intel processors, which also support Linux™, Solaris® and Windows® NT operating systems
Capable of automatically negotiating data transfers at 10, 100 or 1000 Megabits per second in full- or half-duplex mode, the PMC/Gigabit Ethernet/82543 NIC offers embedded systems developers the ideal solution for decreasing development costs and time-to-market as well as provides a seamless upgrade from current Fast Ethernet-based products.

With a standard RJ-45 connector interfacing the PMC/Gigabit Ethernet/82543 NIC to a driver-enabled host system, no adapter cables are required to establish full duplex mode. And by implementing Intel's cutting-edge 82543 LAN controller Gigabit Ethernet technology in a standard PMC form-factor, this NIC offers a cost-effective solution for expanding I/O on single board computers with PMC slots such as Force's CPCI-680 and CPCI-735/736 CompactPCI SBCs as well as the company's VME SBCs.

The PMC/Gigabit Ethernet/82543 network interface card is now available under Force's Early Access Unit program with volume shipments scheduled for August 2001. Prices start at $645. ...Force Computers profile

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems and EDS Announce Continuum of Services Marketing Program

PLANO, TX and PALO ALTO, CA - July 16, 2001 - Expanding their long-standing business relationship, EDS and Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced a program to jointly offer customers an array of complementary, on-demand IT offerings, including web site management, data center outsourcing and ASP hosting services based on Sun's platform. The companies expect the "Continuum of Services" program to generate $3 billion in future sales over the next five years. Under their agreement, Sun and EDS will team to develop and deliver customized solutions for Global 500 customers.

The Sun-EDS Continuum of Services program provides customers with a seamless, best-practice approach to building and delivering a wide range of business solutions, using products and services from two leaders in their respective areas of expertise. Sun provides the hardware, software and architecture - Sun Enterprise[tm] servers, Sun StorEdge[tm] products, the Sun[tm] Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) architecture, Java[tm] technology and technical consulting expertise and iPlanet[tm] software. EDS provides services including systems implementation, integration, consulting and outsourcing. Both companies are developing, deploying and supporting the solutions that result from their joint Continuum of Services program. ...EDS profile, ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's note:- unlike the SunBlest program, which we featured during Sun's shutdown earlier this month, which was a spoof, the above is a real news item, as you can verify by clicking on this link.
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