Sun planning to mix storage and ID management

New cominbed offering to come to market soon

Sun Microsystems is hoping that an integration of its data storage and identity management software will help differentiate its storage offerings from those of other vendors.

Sun is laying the groundwork for such an offering, both from a product and a marketing perspective, says the head of the company’s storage business.

Mark Canepa, executive vice president of Sun’s data management group, describes engineering work to bring together the vendor’s storage and identity management products as “a work in progress”.

“You’re going to start to see some of it this year,” Canepa says. However, he stresses that Sun is likely to redefine the exact nature of the combined software later this year.

Products involved include Sun’s SAM-FS policy-based file-archiving software and the identity management technology Sun acquired in late 2003 through the purchase of Waveset Technologies, Canepa says.

While identity management is becoming less about access by people and more about access by applications, the concept of storage itself is also changing, he says.

“It’s about how to store data, where to store it and how to move it around,” Canepa says.

He gave the example of how a combination of identity and storage management might work in the context of a company’s email retention policies based on the different responsibility levels of its workers.

For a new rank-and-file employee a firm might set policies to store the staffer’s email on its primary storage devices for 90 days, then save the messages to tape for the next 90 days and finally delete the messages 180 days after the employee first received them.

By contrast, when the same company hires a new executive, the combined identity management and storage software would learn that his or her emails should be kept on primary storage devices for 180 days and then be archived for “an infinite retention period”, he says.