Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

A Time Capsule for the Enterprise?

On Halloween I upgraded the desk side PC from Windows XP to Windows 7.  Between multiple reboots, application installs, recovery of email, print server configuration, etc. my wife asked "Why does it have to be so hard?"  As she said this I was looking at the Apple Time Capsule sitting on top of a small cabinet in our home basement. The only item coming out of the Time Capsule was the power cord connected to the power outlet.  I run the Time Capsule as a wireless client in our home network for data backup.  The data consists of many pictures, video clips, songs, the kids homework and basically many various files (some of which are important).

My home (LAN) network has grown over the years from a few PCs connected via an old 802.11b router to a dual band (802.11g/802.11n) router connecting a multitude of wireless clients. These include a XBox, iTouch, PrintServer, OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 devices.  Basically a heterogeneous environment.  Will the older Window versions be phased out at home eventually?  Yes.  The Unix/Linux clients will remain out of necessity as well as for hobby.  It's difficult to currently beat the Mac experience.  Adding a Time capsule into my existing home network was relatively easy.  The Airport setup updated the Time Capsule firmware and configured the device in straight forward steps.  It wasn't as "fun" for a "techie" as say CLI commands, but simple is defined as "fun" for most consumers. The Windows XP to Windows 7 full upgrade was painfull but I have to admit the network configuration experience was much improved.  I was pleasantly surprised freeware Bonjour discovery services just worked and the W7 system configured the Time Capsule as a usable share.

One could imply a similar situation in the enterprise space.  For an enterprise business "fun" is defined as high margin dollars on a growing revenue stream.  This usually means your costs are contained, you implement continuous improvements on efficiency and you simplify.  Vendors in the technology industry are all trying to provide a truly "Enterprise Time Capsule" or Appliance.  There has been a large amount of innovation over the past 20 years.  However today's innovation is tomorrow's PDP-11Minicomputers were appliances that Mainframes couldn't be.  The evolution has continued over the years in every technology segment.

Enterprise customers want it simple as do consumers.  While the stakes are much higher in the enterprise, the bar is significantly raised for "just working" each and every time.  It doesn't matter if you are playing catchup, you are the incumbent or you are the new thought leader-- the winners will be the set of vendors who provide the tool that "just works" each and every time in the harshest and most complex environments. 

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/


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.



About

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

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