Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

Sometimes Perspective is Everything

Have you ever wondered what a Sun MD unit built "in the spirit of" a Sun Fire x4500 (Thumper) would look like? Dan Campbell, who sends me some of the best pictures from the tour, took this interesting shot.

It shouldn't be a secret that I work with the Storage Systems Product Group here within Sun Microsystems. I see every day that the number of storage servers and storage solutions from Sun Microsystems is increasing at an incredible rate. I'm spending more and more time in the lab working with many of these storage solutions, including the most complete Open Source Storage Operating System, OpenSolaris.

The entire Sun Open Storage really resonates with me, and when I combine it with something like the Sun MD, the possibilities seem endless. The whole Open Storage message really boils down to (to me)


  • Open Software - transparency in the software that runs your storage is paramount. I don't think the pioneers of one of the most critical technologies in the world would argue that openness is the foundation of their success. That technology is encryption. The most successful encryption and security software is entirely open to inspection by communities of experts. It seems counter-intuitive that open software in the security field works, but this type of openness allows the world to observe the mechanics of what is going on to ensure the soundness. Open storage software platforms like ZFS and the drivers themselves that run our storage systems is a leap forward in ensuring the integrity of our data and can benefit from the same inspection that makes our world secure.
  • Open Architectures - All of our servers and storage should be able to plug into the most extreme data center architectures, this is the foundation of practices like IT Service Management and the foundation that it is built upon (ITIL). Allow your products to be purchased based on how they fulfill the needs of the services, not on some crazy closed architecture that locks a data center to a vendor's whims.
  • Open Protocols - Everything from management protocols to data path protocols have to be open to inspection and integration. What value is there in hiding these protocols from prying eyes? And opening them up can only yield innovation. System administrators are an incredibly dynamic and intelligent sector of our population. Their creativity in tackling challenging problems comes from necessity. When you combine a Sun MD unit with a set of servers and storage with which the management protocols (and data path protocols) are open to observation by the System Administrators, the possibilities are endless for innovation on how the administrators can observe and manage the contents of the Sun MD.

The Sun MD itself is based on open standards. The shipping container is an ISO standard, the racks are standard and the components within the Sun MD are put together to ensure compliance with local building guidelines. We don't force you into using Sun components within the Sun MD, though with our product portfolio I can't imagine why you wouldn't use them for everything from storage to CPU. If you do choose Sun Servers and Storage, we don't even force you to use one of Sun's Operating Systems...though of course there are great reasons to use them.

You may think I'm way off on a tangent (can you believe my "mentee" actually chose me because I do these sorts of things), I'm not.

Just like Sun MD is all about changing perspectives of "what is a data center"; Open Storage, should have the same effect on you as the Sun MD. In the end, "What is Storage". With an Open Storage portfolio at your fingertips and a data center like Sun MD, what could you do differently that various and sundry other vendors don't allow you to do today because of closed platforms, closed architectures, closed protocols and closed software. Should you trust a platform that you can't inspect?

Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day Austin, TX

We're at the University of Texas today in Austin, TX, home of that great Austin City Limits on PBS and a wonderful music scene from which Shawn Colvin, Charlie Sexton, and many, many other groups have come from.

I need to catch you up on tour dates coming up. Recall we are multi-national at this point. The oversea's tour moves much slower because of all of the borders and water that we have to cross ;-)

Febuary 20-21st we are in Sao Paulo, Brazil and we are in Rio de Janeiro on February 26th. It is "Carnaval" in Brazil so everyone is partying away (from what I hear ;-). Sao Paulo itself is the largest city in South America, the fourth largest by population on our tiny globe, and the center of commerce for Brazil. Surely a place that could use some densely packed CPU and Storage.

March 4-9th we are at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT is a HUGE show. You want to know how huge? In 2007, there were 480,000 attendees (you saw that right).

Here in the U.S., we just came from San Antonio, where Dan the driver is feeding me with a liberal amount of pictures that I faithfully keep in the gallery at SmugMug, you can subscribe to the RSS Feed if you want.

From San Antonio, we moved onto Austin today and Dallas, TX is coming on February 20th.

Thursday Feb 07, 2008

Good Morning AFCEA West Conference

The AFCEA West Conference attendees should be just waking up and having their morning rations before going down for the days activities. So... Good Morning from the Sun MD Blog!

I have a few notes and a load of pictures in the SmugMug Gallery. First of all, attendance has been exceptional. The first day of the conference we exceeded 100 folks on tour, I believe the official number was 112. BUT, we know some of you are sneaking past our bean counters...you know who you are...

Here is the first picture I have of the additional tables we have up around the SunMD Tour as people wait for their timeslot:

What are you seeing on the tables? None other than our Sun Fire x4450 system on the left and a Sun SPARC Enterprise T5120 Server on the right. Note the liberal number of drive bays (2.5" SAS) in the Sun Fire x4450, this makes the same chassis ideal for storage servers, CPU grid servers, or a combination of both.

Something to remember when you look at the Sun MD, we have designed a liberal set of services to accompany the system. Many of these overlap with our non-SunMD services (like Remote Monitoring), some of them are unique to Sun MD (like Site Planning / Leveling). The complete set of services and processes around Sun MD are now on Sun Modular Datacenter Suite of Services web site.

So, if you are AFCEA West today, stop by and have another look:

If you already stopped by to have a look and you snuck past our bean counters...go back and get counted, you give me something to brag about on the blog ;-)

Tuesday Feb 05, 2008

Sun MD Tour Truck vs. Sun Sponsored Race Car

Irvine, CA and San Diego, CA hosted the Sun MD Tour on 1/22 and 1/23 along with its Smokey and the Bandit side-kick, a Sun-sponsored Ford Mustang race car. You'll remember that Smokey and the Bandit had a '77 Pontiac Trans Am...did I ever want that car back in the day. It turns out 7 of them were used during filming and destroyed.

Well, the Sun MD tour is not carrying an illegal shipment of Coors across state lines and, hopefully, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (respects to Jackie Gleason) is not chasing down the driver.

In terms of raw speed, obviously I'd take the race car. In terms of bandwidth, I'm going with the Sun MD S20 on the truck. Using the Sun MD Data Warehouse Solution (containing 63 Sun Fire X4500s), you can house around 3 Petabytes of storage (click through to find other interesting configs):

Driving with my trusty side-kick (the Sun-sponsored Race Car shown above), I can transfer those 3 Petabytes of storage from San Francisco to Boston in about 48 hours. Now, this may take a few corrections from the "community" ;-) But, I believe that gives me 1 3,000,000,000,000,000 bytes / (48 hours \* 60 mins / hour \* 60 secs / min) = 5,787,037,037 17,361,111,111 bytes per second which is about 5.8 17 gigabytes per second. As far as bandwidth goes, not too shabby. You may even be able to squeeze that above 620 gigabytes per second if you throw a couple more Sun Fire x4500s in the back seat of the race car.

You know where to find me if my math is wrong ;-)

NOTE: Yes, I caught the FIRST mistake...I went with 1 petabyte instead of 3, what the Sun MD can hold in terms of Sun Fire X4500 storage.

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