Sun SVP Speak on Sun-Microsoft Interoperability Center

Today we sit down with Joe Heel, Senior Vice President of Sun's Global Storage Practice. Joe shares his thoughts on the new Sun/Microsoft Interoperability Center and a new joint collaboration – the Sun Infrastructure Solution for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

Question: Give us a sense of what Sun announced today, and what the impact will be to customers.

JH: We made two key announcements today about our relationship with Microsoft. The first notable item is that we have launched a joint Interoperability Center together with Microsoft on their Redmond, WA, campus. I was onsite back in January to meet with some peers and take part in filming the launch video; I was quite impressed with the facility, and excited about the sense of openness and opportunity for collaboration that the Interop Center offers. The customer benefits are also quite clear, as we will bring to bear the strength of both Sun's and Microsoft's technical know-how and industry-leading innovations.


The second component in today's announcement is around the Sun Infrastructure Solution for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Sun has developed a targeted solution to address the infrastructure needs of Microsoft Exchange users. This offer provides compelling reasons to run the application on Sun's hardware platforms, which deliver optimal performance in Exchange environments. Customers can save up to 70% on their email total cost of ownership (TCO) over a three-year period and realize up to 85% in “eco” savings as part of this.


Q: What kind of work will be done at the Interoperability Center?


JH: One of the main functions the Interop Center will have is as a lab and testing facility for Microsoft Windows running on Sun hardware. It also offers a space for benchmarking, demos, and concept validation of new or unique environments. I think one of the coolest capabilities it has is around co-development of solutions around things like web services and identity. It's also a place where customers and Sun or Microsoft employees can run proofs-of-concept before deploying a given configuration.


Q: Switching gears a bit....are the Exchange 2007 solutions targeted at businesses of any particular scale?


JH: The Exchange Infrastructure solution is not a “one size fits all” offering; as a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have initially developed and tested six separate configurations targeted at organizations with an Exchange 2007 user base of anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000+ users, and will continue to grow our set of Microsoft approved configurations with new Sun products. Furthermore, we have developed sizing tools to help customers of all sizes find the server and storage configuration that is right specifically for their environment and workload requirements. So, again, we have many options and can scale as a customer's business grows.


Q: Sounds great, but why did Sun focus on email, and on Exchange 2007 in particular?


JH: Email space and bandwidth requirements have increased tremendously – some sources cite an average growth of 68% year-on-year for four straight years. Obviously this puts significant financial and operational pressure on organizations to manage their email growth. The transition from Exchange 2003 to 2007 has tremendous potential to save customers acquisition and operating expenses, but you won't hear many of our competitors offering these savings as they have hug installed base revenues to protect. Sun's Exchange solution offers the industry's most powerful 64-bit servers and optimally-sized storage; implementing Exchange 2007 on Sun will cost save customers up to 70% in acquisition, space, power, cooling and operational costs over 3 years.


I should also note that while we're focused on email archive because of growth in this area, it's critical, too, because most customers do not leverage lower-cost secondary storage for storing dated or non-critical data. This cost savings opportunity is largely overlooked in IT organizations.


Q: From a sales standpoint, what do you see as the biggest opportunity in today's announcements?


JH: I think the Exchange Infrastructure solution is huge, as it is a direct response to what customers have been seeking. Our Solutions teams have been hard at work, and have assembled what I think is a world-class offering. In previews with customers, partners and others, the reception has been strongly positive. We have a full series of collateral, supporting materials, and data ready to go. Plus with several experienced partners on board to help ensure successful deployment, I think we'll see great uptake over the next several quarters.


Q: Is the Sun Infrastructure Solution for Microsoft Exchange just a storage solution?


JH: Not at all; our Exchange Solution focuses on offering the full end-to-end infrastructure, including both servers and storage. In fact, we have some configurations for small customers which leverage servers alone. That said, storage is a critical part of right-sizing an Exchange environment. As such, taking a holistic approach we've taken here ensures that optimal configurations are selected for our customers.

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