Sun Enters 'Open Storage Era'

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-04-29 Print this article Print

Sun Microsystems offers free new development tools and recipes for building OpenSolaris storage servers in mere minutes.

Sun Microsystems on April 29 showed that it continues to reinvent itself in its chosen open-source image by introducing new software development tools and professional storage services for the open-source storage developer community.

The company has identified what it sees as a "radical transformation to the open storage era," since it contends that more and more companies are looking to avoid vendor lock-in in the administration of new data storage systems in new and refurbished data centers.

The idea of "open storage" is not a new one. Disparate companies such as SGI, Dot Hill Systems (a former Sun OEM partner) and the aptly named Open Storage Solutions have already claimed part of that original stake, but Sun is the largest IT company to date to embrace the full open-source software stack in a RAID array system.

Sun claims that an average developer can construct a storage server in 10 minutes or less using the following new tools, which include how-to videos and an accompanying step-by-step online guidebook:

  • "Building a OpenSolaris Storage Server"-A how-to recipe intended to familiarize developers with the simple commands in Solaris for performing data management tasks, such as ZFS (Zettabyte File System) , NFS (Network File System), CIFS (Common Internet File System) and COMSTAR. For more information, go here.

  • "Building a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) Appliance"-This how-to recipe describes the steps required to build an NAS device with the OpenSolaris operating system. Go here for more information.
    In addition, Sun said it has expanded its online and phone service capabilities to speed open storage application development. The company said it would answer questions ranging from open storage architectural design for a proprietary system to data migration needs. More detail is available here.

    Since Sun released OpenSolaris in November 2004, the operating system's development community has grown to about 3,000 members working on about 30 specific improvement projects, a Sun spokesperson told eWEEK.

    The company's foundation for all this to-be-developed software is centered on the industrial-strength, 48-drive Sun Fire x4500 "Thumper" storage server-which Sun touts as the world's first hybrid server/storage data server-and the Solaris ZFS file system within OpenSolaris. However, Sun says it will work with virtually any kind of hardware in setting up an open-source storage system.

    New Sun storage Senior Vice President Jon Benson, in one of his first interviews since taking over his new job, told eWEEK that every data system has to have the servers, the networking and the storage hardware to get started, but the software stack "is actually what sets the personality for what's under the covers."

    "A major benefit [of using the open-source software stack] is that you can reprovision a lot of your capital equipment across your environment without having to invest a ton of money in training, new capital or in those kinds of things," Benson said. "This is a good secondary benefit of a system where the control points are sitting in a software stack-which, by the way, being open, there are communities contributing and adding to that-plus, there's the ability of the user to customize some of that, so he can be competitive in his particular marketplace."

    Most of the storage industry is still closed and proprietary, with most customers locked in to one particular vendor, said John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's Systems Group.

    "The storage industry is undergoing a radical transformation that parallels what servers went through a decade ago," Fowler said. "Solaris OS, ZFS ... and the work of the OpenSolaris storage community [are providing] rock-solid, enterprise-class scalability and value. The use of open platforms allows developers to repurpose and reuse hardware through the simple addition of new software-something not offered by proprietary solutions."

    Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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