Monday Nov 10, 2008

A new Networked Appliance is the Appliance Appliance for Storage and IT

Going against the establishment or trying to redefine standards in an industry is always hard.  While believers encourage you the industry critics are happy to knock you down.  For the critics as Dale Carnegie says: "Criticisms are disguised complements."  Today after lots of encouragement, hard work and collaboration Sun is announcing it's first wave of OpenStorage appliance solutions built from some pretty compelling systems and software technologies. 

In a nutshell the Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Family offers data services via:

  • - Storage Analytics
  • - VLAN support
    - ZFS Hybrid Storage Pool
    - RAID-Z (5 and 6), Mirrored and Striping
    - Snapshots
    - Clone and clone promotion
    - Snapshot Restore
    - Storage ISV integration
    - NFSv3, v4 service
    - Kernel based CIFS Server
    - iSCSI Target
    - Remote Replication
    - Data Compression
    - Active-Active Clustering
    - Thin Provisioning
    - Virus scanning
    - NDMP Server (Network Data Management Protocol)
    - System Self-Healing
    - ZFS Data Integrity
    - RAID-6 (DP) and optional RAID-6 Across JBODs
    - LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol)
    - IP MultiPathing (IPMP)
    - I/O MultiPathing between the Sun Storage 7410 and JBODs
    - Phone home telemetry
    - Multi Browser Interface support
    - Heterogeneous access
    - Role Base Access Control and more...

As true appliances the Sun Storage 7110, 7210 and 7410 offer you a seamless easy to use captive control interface.  It should not matter what is under the covers. But let's take a quick peek under and look at some of the piece parts.  The same piece parts that allow anyone in the opensolaris community to roll your own storage solution.  A great group of folks at Sun have rolled our own storage appliance for sale ($$$) if that is the right solution for you.  Some community members have money but no time and some community members have no money but timeMeet up with them.  The choice is yours and the cost savings are significant for either choice.  However it is pretty difficult to make something very easy and that's where the technical skills of systems and software expertise at Sun differentiates. 

Next up in our recipe is standard commodity hardware.  Nothing special is needed here to add or tweak the configuration.  Software turns the standard hardware into the appliance.  Stock servers with disks and dumb JBOD expansion if you really want to scale. No magic here other than well designed hardware.  Add in components such as SSD/Flash technology to optimize file serving.  Marry it all with very clever file system technology (you know what it is) so performance gains pop.  Intelligence based on a simple flow of:

if ssd_present

then

       begin {optimize ssd}

else

       begin {optimize normal};

That's right an auto sensing file system (click here to see the actual code) for solid state disks no matter how many you may have in your configuration.  Now let's look at one final component. Technology that combines, contains, configures, consolidates and choreographs all this neat stuff into one seamless appliance of fully integrated software and hardware (FISHworks).  The result is analytics for insight and management.  Integrated RAS, fault management and reporting.  Click and point for configuration, management of data services and user management.  Simply easy.

Congratulations are due to too many folks to name here across the systems, software, services, marketing, ops, etc. organizations at Sun.  The most exciting aspect for me is the almost limitless additional services and horizontal scaling that can be realized through the combination of more innovation among systems and opensolaris software.  No matter what model is right for you, as a community member, you can participate or just watch.  It's totally up to you.

As the graphic shows above we've put all hands in for a job well done.

Enough of the quick peek of what is under the covers, just get it and try it out and let us know what you think.  A select set of community members have been working with us for a while and see the glass both ways.  We have been listening too... that is why we took some extra time.



Thursday Mar 20, 2008

A Completed Open Source Storage Stack... no kidding

Another storage code base has been posted at opensolaris.  This most recent contribution focuses on the area of hierarchical storage management (HSM).  The technology is much more than standard backup.  It addresses automated data management via policies driven by data and metadata.  HSM drives some of the largest data repositories out there in the industry today.  With our open sourcing of SAM-Q we have completed an extremely large complex effort of open sourcing our \*entire\* storage stack!

This milestone is only the end of the beginning since we have many new open storage projects in process at opensolaris.org. These new storage projects are all being developed out in the open with the community.  Everything from data services, protocols, file systems, compression, encryption, replication, snapshots, drivers and archive software is available to the community.  There is no other comprehensive open sourced storage stack out there in the industry.

However, there are other comprehensive proprietary storage stacks out there that are quite good but you pay a hefty price (premium) for each part of the storage stack.  If you have the time but not the money the opensolaris community may be the place where you can contribute.  The community may also be the place for you if you are trying to establish your business or solution at a revolutionary price point.  In either case pure economics is a driving force. 

You may want to check out my most current read. "Alan Greenspan - The Age of Turbulence"  If you enjoy economics, history and want to ponder the power of the open source movement (aggregate demand ;-) )-- this book is a must read.  Alan also gives you some insight into the current market meltdown.

Read what some of the many team members Margaret Hamburger, Ted Pogue and Lynn Rohrer have to say about our latest opensource efforts. The entire team's pace and execution responded to a very aggressive goal set by me ~1 year ago... "Open Source the entire storage stack."  I'm also excited by the code contributions made by partners and vendors to the community.  It is also equally exciting to see customers using the open sourced storage technologies to build their storage products for their businesses. 

We at Sun also have the opportunity to build hybrid storage solutions with the opensolaris storage stack as well.  After all, open source software is in our DNA and we are the largest commercial contributors of open source software in the world.  A big thank you to the entire team.


Monday Nov 26, 2007

The Art of Coexistant File Sharing in OpenSolaris

Today any OS needs to provide support for the 2 dominant file sharing protocols in the industry (NFS and CIFS).  While there are good  implementations such as SAMBA which run  "On" the OS in user space, ideally you want both file sharing protocols to run portions of the implementation "In" the kernel.  Now that OpenSolaris has a kernel based CIFS server along side NFS, I want to give kudos to a few people who made it a reality. Keep in mind implementing any file protocol in any kernel is difficult.  When you introduce both Windows and OpenSolaris together at the kernel level one can appreciate the complexities introduced to coexist.  Coexist has the caveat that code gets added in a seamless fashion and that services are not negatively impacted by this new foreign object.  Fundamental items such as the file system, security, permissions, marshaling,  etc., play an important part in making the seamless coexistence a technical mountain to climb.  That said the OpenSolaris team solved some pretty significant technical issues to make the CIFS Server in OpenSolaris available to anyone.  Despite some self proclaimed experts insisting the feat would never be accomplished, I'll point you to a few folks who know how to collaborate, innovate and in some instances dictate how to "get it done."  You can see for yourself the numerous ARC (~35) cases sponsored and approved as well as some intricate details of how problems were solved.  You can hear from the developers directly and since OpenSolaris is open sourced-- peruse ~370 thousands of lines of code that are now part of OpenSolaris.  Let's start with Mike Shapiro and Alan M. Wright.  One is a Patriots and Red Sox fan (like me) and the other is fond of rugby (unlike me... I like the Patriots).  Both are top notch engineers who can architect with ease and crank out massive amounts of code... that just works.  Mike and Alan cracked a heck of a technical problem (yes these are the hard problems that motivate them both) with respect to "Unified POSIX and Window Credentials for Solaris."  Mike describes the problem in detail on a recent post at his blog.  Alan takes us through, via his blog, the evolution of how a fully integrated CIFS service was integrated into OpenSolaris.  He is very literate on topics such as SMB autohome shares and why they evolved.  Let's not forget about Afshin, Doug and Nico.  All quite literate as well on the details of the hows and whys of a fully integrated CIFS service into OpenSolaris that was not just munged to sort of work.  From an architectural perspective numerous design requirements were diligently reviewed.  Take for example endianness.  The CIFS protocol is sensitive to the x86 processor endian order of significance.  However careful care was taken to enable the CIFS protocol in OpenSolaris to work on both big-endian and little-endian architectures by putting intelligence into marshaling.  So that means that the OpenSolaris CIFS Server will run on a SPARC-based platform if a community member were to build an appliance or simply run the service as part of a general purpose server.  Yes Niagara-II and Rock microprocessors work as it is part of OpenSolaris architecture conformance.  What other open sourced OS supports a kernel based CIFS service that runs on both big and little endian machines?

Thursday Nov 08, 2007

OpenSolaris Train Keeps a Rolling...

There I was standing at the railway station in the city of Odawara, Japan waiting for the express train back to Tokyo.  Out of nowhere a N700 bullet train sped by without stopping.  I'm estimating it was clocking ~90mph (~145kph) right through the station!!!  The N700 bullet train is an engineering marvel.  In fact the bullet train system in Japan is a wonderful experience.  The service is superb and in my opinion the most efficient means for transportation in and out of Tokyo.  Instead of dealing with stop and go traffic in any congested major city of the world, you ride on what feels like a cushion of air.  You also see the electric poles on the side of the track flash by you quickly...  You know you are going fast.  The N700 will top out at ~320kph (~200mph) which is equivilent to the French TGV  bullet trains.  Previously the N700 was bidding to top out at ~360kph (~224mph) but the East Japan Railway Company decided to scale back due to vibration and environmental concerns.  I wanted to take a picture of the train in motion.  The pure speed not only startled me but had me in awe of this beautiful machine.  The nose of the train is very aerodynamic in appearance.  The number of passenger cars attached, fully occupied with passengers, must of numbered ~20.  Despite the number of fully loaded cars the N700 appeared to effortlessly move  due to momentum and kinetic energy.

The N700 reminds me of the OpenSolaris train that has gathered a lot of speed and momentum during the past 18 months.  This train  is carrying more passengers (community members) and the acceleration is noticeable.  With the OpenSolaris release of the Developer Preview, MMS, Kernel based CIFS Server and yes infamous ephemeral UIDs the validation of open source software keeps building momentum.  Furthermore even more technology is yet to come.  While a picture may be worth a 1000 words-- I encourage you to look, touch and participate in the millions of lines of source code available to everyone.  So you can create your own picture.


Friday Oct 26, 2007

FISH -n- CIFS

There is motivation when skeptics like to preach that there is no way <substitute here> is going to happen.  Examples include come from behind victories in sports, new discoveries in science and cures for disease.  Good intentions are one thing, but following through on those intentions is a bit more difficult. 

The storage community at opensolaris.org has been busy this past year with community members that include partners, industry standard bodies and numerous code contributions.  The community has been on a journey to continue to enhance, integrate, develop, share and invent technologies applicable to traditional storage and more importantly hybrid storage solutions of today and tomorrow.  The Storage Platform for OpenSolaris Distributions has just had some recent contributions.  Keep in mind these contributions to the community are free, open and not proprietary.  Code is not read only, but available for modification, improvement and bi-directional sharing according to the opensolaris licensing terms.

Recent additions of code and new opensolaris projects include:

  • Kernel based CIFS server (Build 77).  That's right-- designed in as a first class citizen of the os with a kernel based protocol, tightly coupled with NFSv4, VFS, ZFS and Active Directory.  Windows Interoperability.  Another complimentary open sourced solution along side our friends from the SAMBA community.  This service leverages the os and its capabilities.  Need infinite snapshots of your CIFS files?  Want file compression?  Strive for encryption of your data?  Not a problem.  ZFS provides these data services IN the file system.  The kernel based CIFS server source code will post here today.  Need help with source code management tools click here.

  • NDMP service.  Table stakes for backup applications.  The code will be binaries only until the SNIA working group members complete their efforts.

  • Virus Scan service.  Another service that is tightly integrated with the kernel CIFS server and the ZFS file system.  This service provides ICAP protocol support for off-board virus scan engines.

  • NFSv4 Mirror Mounts.  NFSv4 Clients can now automatically mount shared file systems on a NFSv4 Server.

The above new Opensolaris project pages will be posting in the next few weeks so stay tuned.

Adding more and more content to the storage stack of opensolaris may raise some questions of what can be done with this stack.  Well first off it enables better integrated hybrid storage solutions.  The x4500 "Thumper"with Solaris has enabled new thinking storage solutions by leveraging the hardware and software unique capabilities.  One can continue on this journey and enhance the unique hardware and software capabilities.  In fact think of it as Fully Integrated Software and Hardware on a repetitive basis.  The tighter you integrate the incremental features, the more compelling solutions with commodity components using an enterprise open sourced os one can build.  I would think that if you could provide a software heath kit of an open sourced software stack to appeal to the masses you may have something worth investigating.

Come and participate.  Opensolaris is transforming itself from open storage solutions, xVM to Solaris install revisited also known as "Indiana." 

How can you pass up FISH -n- CIFS well prepared? Help spread the word.

About

The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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