Sun centre lets its storage customers

Markham, Ont.-based Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. opened the first of many planned storage technology centres in May with DigiDyne Inc. of Montreal, an IT infrastructure management firm.

Located at DigiDyne’s Montreal headquarters, the “storage competency centre” is an interactive showroom that displays various Sun storage technologies, including storage area networks (SANs).

“Of course, it’s [one thing] when you can talk about the solution, but usually, it’s much better when you can talk about it and after that, show it. And that will give a confidence level to our customers and prospects,” said Antoine Rollet, storage manager for Canada at Sun. “This is the reason why the competency centre is there.”

Companies in the market for storage products or full solutions can go into the storage competency centre at DigiDyne and see Sun’s products operating in a controlled environment. According to Rollet, customers visiting the centre are not only exposed to Sun’s technology, but also to other vendors’ technology working together with Sun’s products. For instance, there is a Sun enterprise server and switch connected to other vendors’ storage products, he said.

“When you offer a solution, you have to realize our customers have other investments in their architectures from various vendors, and we have to respect that and protect that investment,” Rollet said.

As a Sun reseller for the past 10 years, DigiDyne is a company with approximately 55 employees that focuses on storage products and practices. According to Ivan Berkovits, president of DigiDyne, the centre took a year to go from idea to reality. And while Sun is a major partner in the centre, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. is also involved with it.

Customers “think it’s really neat because adjoining the centre is a training facility, which is equipped so we can give seminars,” Berkovits said. DigiDyne and Sun will be hosting formal training seminars at the centre for customers and partners. The storage competency centre currently has 10 people associated with it in DigiDyne’s offices.

The Montreal storage competency centre is only the first of many, Rollet said. Similar centres are planned for Canada and the U.S., although the partners and exact locations have not yet been made public. Rollet said Sun plans to put a storage competency centre in each major Canadian city. In the U.S., there are centres planned to roll out in 24 cities over the next six months.

According to Alan Freedman, research manager for servers, workstations and storage at International Data Corp. (IDC) Canada, the storage competency centre is a way for customers to get a real-world example of how to set up a storage solution, what different components are necessary and how the components interact with each other.

“You could equate it to an auto dealership, where you can go in and, instead of just reading about it or seeing ads, you can actually go in and kick the tires and see how it all works,” Freedman said. He added that the ability for customers to see how the products work is becoming increasingly important with the growing need for complex network-based storage solutions.

For more information about Sun’s storage products, visit the company at DigiDyne can be found on the Web at