September 19, 2002 9:43 AM PDT

Sun to buy start-up to boost "N1" plan

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SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems has struck a deal to acquire start-up Pirus Networks, a creator of technology that could help Sun's plan to squeeze more use out of existing storage systems.

Pirus' technology will help in Sun's N1 effort to unite servers and storage systems into a single large computing resource, Chief Executive Scott McNealy said at a press meeting Thursday at Sun's SunNetwork conference here. Pirus has "virtualization" technology that lets several storage systems be linked into one large pool.

Individual storage systems often have lots of extra capacity--Illuminata analyst James Governor estimates that often as much as 85 percent is unused. But because the storage systems are tied to a specific server or task, that extra space can't be shared by other systems. Virtualization unites all the storage systems so any server can use the entire pool of available storage.

McNealy said Pirus' technology helps lessen troubles when a particular storage system fails or needs maintenance. It also lets administrators change configurations quickly when, for example, a particular application needs more storage space.

Sun didn't disclose terms of the planned acquisition other than saying it was a stock-for-stock transaction.

Pirus also sells a "storage utility switch" that joins servers to a host of different types of storage systems. That's significant as Sun hopes to make its N1 plan span other companies' equipment, not just its own.

McNealy said Tuesday that acquisitions will be part of Sun's effort to build up N1 and keep improving technology.

"You're going to see a lot of interesting little technology acquisitions," McNealy said. "It's much more interesting now compared to two years ago. You can actually get something of value."


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