Sun Goes Beyond RAID in Its First Storage Appliance

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-11-10 Print this article Print

Sun Microsystems' new storage appliances can be used either in a small IT system or, using a larger form factor, in a large data center. Code-named Amber Road, the rack-mounted 7000 line comes in 2TB, 44TB and 288TB options. All use the open-source ZFS file system and the DTrace system analysis tool and can be up and running in about 5 minutes, Sun claims.

Outside of its Java-based software for video games, smart cards and handheld devices, Sun Microsystems has never had anything resembling a true small-business or "consumerish" hardware or software product in its 26 years as a mainstay of enterprise network computing.

Until now, that is. Sun on Nov. 10 announced the Sun Storage 7000 product line, its first storage appliance, which can be used in a small IT system-or, using a larger form factor, in a large data center.

Code-named Amber Road, the 7000 line consists of three products: the 7110 Iwashi (2TB maximum capacity), the 7210 Fugu (up to 44TB) and the Toro 7410 (up to 288TB). The appliance-which is defined as hardware with preloaded, single-purpose software-is the first in a new line of unified storage systems that Sun is releasing to various levels of the IT market.

Amber Road has been in development for about two years by an internal Sun  group. The software layer the group developed that runs the storage systems is called FishWorks. The first three versions of the storage appliance are named after types of sushi that the development team favors.

"This is the first-ever storage 'appliance' Sun has produced," John Fowler, the company's vice president for systems, told eWEEK. "Plus, it's the first storage product we've released that is using a combination of open-source [OpenSolaris] software, [NAND] flash technology and HHDs. So it's a big step up for us in the open storage area."

The biggest advantage for users, Fowler said, is that the appliance offers "vastly easier storage administration and maintenance than other storage products. For example, it takes less than 5 minutes for installation and provisioning."

Because it uses the next-generation Zettabyte File System, Fowler said, the Amber Road storage devices have eliminated the use of RAID arrays, RAID controllers and volume management software.

"All the [traditional] day-to-day management involving moving storage online and managing storage resources is dramatically reduced in time and effort," Fowler said.

In addition, Sun has added storage-level diagnostics and analytics that go "far beyond anything else available in the storage world today," he said.

All of the new unified storage systems include comprehensive data services at no extra cost, Fowler said. These include snapshots/cloning, restores, mirroring, optional RAID-5, optional RAID-6, replication, active-active clustering, compression, thin provisioning, CIFS (Common Internet File System), NFS (Network File System), iSCSI, HTTP/FTP and WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning).

"This ... may well be in a class by itself. The embedded hardware functionality and list of software add-ons are remarkable for the price of this appliance," said John Webster, principal IT adviser at Illuminata. "This new family has the potential to become the most disruptive thing Sun has ever done in storage."

The Sun Storage 7110 is priced at $10,995 for 2TB, the Sun Storage 7210 starts at $34,995 for 11.5T, and the Sun Storage 7410 single-node version starts at $57,490 for 12TB, while the cluster version, with two server nodes, starts at $89,490 for 12TB.

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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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