By taylorallis on Jun 17, 2008
Ok - chapter 5 in the Open Storage Adoption White Paper talks about the vendor landscape. We'll start with Sun.
Sun's Open Storage Differentiation
There are three areas that position Sun as the best partner for Open Storage solutions:
- Innovative HW systems: Sun’s hardware differentiation lies in design innovation. Three examples of this are the Sun Fire X4500 (Thumper) which combines a four-way x64 server with 48 TB of SATA disk in a 4U rack space - one of the most efficient and dense storage servers on the planet (and there is more to come). Sun's unique ST5800 (Honeycomb) archive platform scored perfect 10s in reliability and scalability with InfoWorld. On the server side, Sun's Blade 6000 is the most open blade platform in the industry - delivering Solaris, Linux, Windows or VMware on single and multicore processors by Sun, AMD, and Intel in one chassis.
- OpenSolaris as a storage platform: One of the most robust and reliable OSes in IT. Sun also offers advanced open-source file systems including NFS, the upcoming Parallel NFS (pNFS) and ZFS. ZFS can manage zettabytes of storage and offers data services including volume management, data integrity and software RAID.
- Open-source storage applications: Sun has now open-sourced more high-level storage application software than any other storage vendor. Applications like remote-mirror-copy and point-in-time-copy. Take a look at Sun's complete open-source, end-to-end storage portfolio (a storage developer's dream):
- Traffic management, disk, and tape drivers
- Volume snapshot and replication applications
- Media management and data migration applications
- Volume management and HSM software
- Fixed-content, archive applications
- Storage file systems
- FC, iSCSI, OSD, and object-based targets and initiators
Other "Open Storage" Efforts
In keeping with the definition of open source software + industry standard HW = Open Storage (aka a more scalable, economic storage architecture) let's look at what other vendors are doing with open source software and industry-standard hardware. But remember, several vendors use open source software and industry standard hardware - but still limit customer choice and charge higher rates in their implementations...
IBM: In terms of industry-standard hardware, IBM sells Intel and AMD servers as well as SAS- and SATA-based disk and JBOD systems. IBM does see value in open source as it is a large Linux supporter. (However, Sun has more than 3,000 members and 30 open-source storage projects in development for OpenSolaris AND has even open-sourced its commercial applications like the Sun StorageTek Availability Suite - giving its customers full and affordable access to its own IP). IBM’s recent investment in the storage market has been its recent acquisition of XIV - see IBM buys XIV - good move or bad? XIV NEXTRA does use industry-standard hardware, but its software is proprietary (not open source). XIV shows IBM has realized customers need more than what traditional disk products offer today - the design points of the XIV architecture are low cost and massive scalability. However, the technology is new and IBM’s claims of low cost are yet to be determined.
HP: HP also sells Intel and AMD processor-based servers; as well as SAS, SATA and SCSI JBOD arrays. HP sells ProLiant servers or industry-standard servers running Windows Storage Server (Not open source, but obviously a high-volume OS). HP acquired PolyServe in 2007 to cluster its storage and server systems. HP recently announced its HP StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100) - a large NAS appliance with an entry configuration of a whopping 246TB of standard disk. HP also broke away from Windows in its implementation - using open-source Linux as the platform for this higher-capacity platform. HP says it will ship the ExDS9100 by year's end, but without some features like CIFS support. (And by the time the ExDS9100 ships, Sun's X4500 will have been on the market for over 2 years with over 250 petabytes installed.)
EMC: EMC primarily offers closed systems today - custom components and software that are available only through EMC. But EMC can identify business/IT trends and adapt to them. In January 2008, EMC announced its first Storage as a Service (SaaS) or “Cloud” storage offering. EMC is also investing in two products code-named “HULK” and “MAUI.” MAUI is software that will provide what EMC calls a “global repository” - but not much in known at the time of this blog. According to this blogger, HULK's official name is EMC InfiniFlex and a single system consists of a full 44U rack with up to 300 drives (10 disk trays x 30 disks). They fit these 30 drives in 3U it looks like (and does the front-to-back cooling suggest they stick the extra disk behind the front-end disk?) It also uses 12 dual core, 1U servers as well as 2 ethernet switches. So, it essentially looks like industry-standard HW (storage & servers) with TBD software. HULK and MAUI may be EMC’s first venture into the open-storage space - especially if the systems are able to work with other, third-party, industry-standard components. But the benefits to EMC’s new offerings, and just how “open” they are, are yet to be announced...
NetApp: NetApp sells their own proprietary hardware and also develops their own custom operating system called Data OnTap (while others in the industry have been moving to an open or high-volume
operating system for storage - like Solaris, Linux or Windows.) NetApp does not open-source its storage operating system software.
Dell: Dell has built its business on industry-standard, volume-based products. Dell lets customers configure servers with industry-standard Intel and AMD processors, SATA disk drives and various Linux distributions. Dell can be credited for its online configuration and ordering services; but Open Storage customers really require enterprise-class software, services and tech support from their Open Storage vendors - like Sun offers.
Open Storage Case Studies