Sun Drives 'Amber Road' to Record Sales

Sun Microsystems says in the six months since the launch of its next-generation Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems package it has sold more than 800 deployments, constituting more than 17 petabytes of capacity over a cross-section of vertical markets.

Sun Microsystems had some welcome good news to report May 7. After six months in general release, the company's first home-designed and developed storage appliances, the "Amber Road" Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems, have been selling like gangbusters-despite the recession.

Since the launch of Amber Road Nov. 10, 2008, Sun has sold more than 800 of the hybrid SSD/HDD (solid state drive/hard disk drive) deployments consisting of more than 17 petabytes of capacity over a cross-section of markets large and small, Sun Group Manager of Storage Products Ray Austin told eWEEK.

"This is the fastest ramp-up in sales of any storage product in the history of the company," Austin said. "That includes [all products from the] StorageTek [division]. In the short time it's been out in the marketplace, it's grown faster than any other product."

StorageTek was an independent storage tape and hard disk designer and manufacturer that Sun acquired for $4.1 billion in 2005. StorageTek's hardware and software, and the maintenance of a large installed base, have since made up the bulk of Sun's storage business.

Amber Road is the first storage product Sun has released that uses a combination of OpenSolaris software, NAND flash drives and hard disk drives.

Click here for images of the Sun Storage 7000 line.

"It's breaking ice in a number of areas. The list of vertical markets we've sold into is very diverse: manufacturing, financial services, government, education, media [and] entertainment-it's pretty broad," Austin said.
Finding a home in mixed data centers

Amber Road is being used by mixed Linux-Windows shops in a number of ways-most often for simple file sharing, because it has the ability to export a file across multiple protocols in a single instance, Austin said.

Amber Road also works well with VMware, because it allows a user to drill down to a virtual machine level and track location and performance of any and all VMs in a system, he said.

"One of the big pain points for virtualized shops is that admins don't always know where the hot spots [problems with disks] are coming from," Austin said. "Using the 7000, they can reassign their shared storage on VMs to a different server easily. With the DTrace analytics in Amber Road, the user can really hone in on bottlenecks in the virtual storage infrastructure."

The Sun Storage 7000 line consists of three products: the 7110 (2TB maximum capacity), the 7210 (up to 60TB) and the 7410 (up to 288TB).

All of them use Sun's open-source ZFS (Zettabyte File System) and the DTrace system analysis tool and can be up and running in about 5 minutes, Sun claims. Pricing starts at about $11,000 for the 2TB version.
Seeing action in enterprise shops

One of the main drivers is that Sun Storage 7000 line can be used by small and midsize companies in its small form, or in a large corporate data center, Austin said.

The biggest advantage that Amber Road brings users, Sun Vice President for Systems John Fowler told eWEEK, 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 ZFS, 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.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...