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?

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