Wednesday May 27, 2009

For my HTML readers, more about Sun's Unified Storage

I have just uploaded my notes from a meeting where Mike Shapiro presented on Open Storage to this blog, but backdated it to the time of occurrence. See 11th March

tags: myblog

Thursday Mar 19, 2009

Installing the Amber Road simulator on a Laptop

Sun's Open Storage software comes as an appliance from Currently available as a VMware image, and I now have it running on my trusty laptop.

Unified Storage Simulator screen shot

The management panel in in the browser, the appliance console is the black window, I have started the CIFS service, mounted a file system using SMB onto my host image (the windows folder) and I have opend a file using notepad. It was easier to do than attach my Vista systems to my legacy home windows network.

I had to install VMware Player first and when the VM starts for the first time, you are offered a text menu to install the network identity and point to the network gateways. I was nervous about VMware because I wasn't sure about what VMware does to implement the network interface. This wiki page has been created by the FISHworks team to help you, which discusses how you configure each of the four netowrk interfaces and I advise you to think hard about the node name and domain name as I havn't yet worked out how to change it. The wiki's advice on the network gateways didn't work for me so I used dor both the default gateway and DNS server. Anyway the boot screen looks like this,

unified storage simulator first time screen

I am off to install it on my home server and maybe I'll try the Virtual Box version and use the appliance to manage my home network storage, I think its legal, but in order to get the performance advantage at scale, you'll need to buy the hardware.


Tuesday Mar 10, 2009

Squaring the circle, from disruption to trust

Mike Shapiro is an expert in disruptive technology; he was working on Solaris in the early 2000s. He spoke to a number of us at Sun's Guillemont Park Campus about Amber Road, Sun's new disruptive file server technology. Sun and our customers have the opportunity to take advantage of the next big thing in network storage.

Mike explained that for a technology to be truly disruptive

  • it must be cheaper
  • it must be good enough
  • there must be a compelling reason for adoption

and Amber Road has two killer apps. Flash and Analytics. There is a small layer of functionality that Amber Road can't provide but the bulk of the market doesn't need it, and certainly doesn't need it at the price charged. Since storage is a trust business, Sun's storage sales teams and the customers need to understand very carefully the storage requirements. It is unlikely that any functionality not available is a universal requirement but in some cases, its not the right time for customers to move from their incumbent suppliers; they need some of the missing functionality. Talking to storage users about Sun's new storage concentrates the minds of everyone involved.

Over the last 10 years, there have been only two ways that the laws of physics and economics permit to make disk arrays faster, either increase the cache size, or increase the disk speed. The cost of Flash has dropped over the last three years, thanks to those of us buying mp3 players and pdas. The Amber Road box's software allow newly economic flash to do either or both. Sun is a leader in flash and certify enterprise flash for 3-5 years. and has additional advantages including the superior reliability of ZFS and the opensource pricing of the Unified Storage arrays. We don't licence a right to use. What we charge is based on what we ship, you don't get charged more as you turn on functionality. (This has nearly always been true of Sun, I remember when buying SunOS systems that one of the advantages was that network funtionality was bundled with UNIX where as I was asked to pay extra for networking and RAID functionality by my then incumbent supplier). Crucially Sun doesn't seek to tax its customer's innovation. The "no more to pay" approach also applies to the Analytics which come with the box and you can use them all. The software is available on a try before buy basis at and I will be downloading have downloaded it onto my laptop, see also Installing the Amberroad simulator above, to demonstrate to anyone that wants to see it. [ Sun's 7000 series storage simulator home page ].

Some of what is argued to be missing is FCAL support. Mike stated that the long-term winning strategy is to have only one cable going into the box. If there's to be only one winner, it ain't going to be FCAL; it needs to support Ethernet, and there's a demand for infiniband. Our proposed iscsi functionality release plans means that the Unified Storage boxes can offer block devices over the network and support for most enterprise data centres will only get better. Having said that, we propose to release FC target functionality in Q4 this year.

The value proposition for Amber Road is that its cheaper, good enough and offers game changing superior management. This often gets lost in a feature benefit analysis, which often seek to disguise what the features cost. Sun knows storage and can meet the trust requirements that customer's require, Amber Road shows that a trusted source can disrupt the economics, and its only the customers that win.

This was uploaded on 28th May 2009 and back dated to the date of occurrence, 11th March


Sunday Jan 04, 2009

You can't do this without "amberroad"

Glenn Brunnette pointed this Youtube Video out to me

which struck me as rather cool in that it demonstrates the awesome advantage of the FISHworks analytics i.e. the management software that comes with Sun's Unified Storage systems. Its such a great way of seeing the power of the software I decided to bookmark it on and digg it, [here], I glad to see I am not the first. I was, however, sad to see that the digg conversation was so trivial, amusingly focused on the effects of shouting at computers, which we've all done, and less so about the track record of the person who submitted the story to digg. Has Digg jumped the shark?


Wednesday Mar 28, 2007

The economics of open source in the world of storage.

Brian Wong, one of Sun's Distinguished Engineers spoke this morning and stated categorically that the "Storage [Market] is right to be disrupted".

He argued that the general purpose OS (such as Solaris) offers massive developer economies of scale, by which we mean operating system develepor economics. He quoted an example of one of our disk controller operating systems which we have 31 developers and no community, where as for Solaris, Sun employs 1200 people with an extended community of tens of thousands. Even if fixing bugs was the only work that developers need to do, 31 is not a lot of people, but storage devices and hence their OS need to evolve to remain useful.

He claimed that there are a number of myths about the nature of a storage device operating system, the most prevalent of which is that it needs to be real time. Despite the fact that Solaris has a real time scheduler, Brian argued that storage doesn't need real time.

Furthermore, Solaris is well positioned because as large drives and larger drives come onto the market, Sun's portfolio of storage operating systems functionality which now includes ZFS, Solaris Cluster, the fault management architecture & SMF, together with the highly functional SAM-FS/QFS and Sun availability suit delivers storage functionality to storage administrators and architects. It may also act as very attractive platform for new entrants to the market as opensolaris is available under the Community Development and Distribution License which means that they do not inherit a duty to publish their innovations.

What with the industry leading science in tape devices, we have some interesting times ahead.





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