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.



Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

OpenStorage in the news... OpenStorage IS the news.

A year ago Sun announced its OpenStorage initiative.  OpenSolaris is enabling the open storage revolution with the industry's first open storage software community and it is thriving and growing.  Companies are actively contributing source code as well as building appliances and solutions with this OpenStorage software stack.  This is not a head on battle with proprietary storage vendors.  Rather it is a flankOpenStorage  provides customers the advantage of a global community, with all the building blocks they need to accelerate business and market response at 1/10th the cost, with freedom to change vendors. Unlike the competition, Sun remains active in the community, offering the full range of service and support to help you at any point along the path to OpenStorage.  The community is enabled to provide OpenStorage software pre-installed on selected servers and contributed to the community for download.

OpenStorage = commodity industry standard hardware + OpenSolaris

All community members love to share to the degree that they choose.  That is the beauty... participate actively or maybe just watch for the moment from your vantage point.  It is rewarding to observe the participation through the efforts of others.  From podcasts of enthused individuals destroying disk drives to community members touting the value of this open sourced software-- one point is consistent.  ZFS is a file system that keeps appearing in the news more and more.  For example, end to end data integrity WITHOUT  intelligent hardware RAID controllers using free software on commodity hardware is news. Simon blogging about an open sourced home file server is news.  Fear of the impact of this free technology to some proprietary business models is news.  Seeing what others are doing with this technology is news.  Interest from other companies both large and small on using this file system is news.  Tim Thomas talking about configuring native CIFS in WorkGroup mode on OpenSolaris is news.  When Tim discusses Domain mode that is news as well. Seeing Jim Hughes and his YouTube postings helps makes the news as well. 

OpenStorage is no longer coming.  OpenStorage is here and customers are containing and retiring their proprietary storage. 

Set your storage free...  Get connected.

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.


Thursday Jan 17, 2008

Don't Forget That Storage Plumbing

Few can say that storage is not one very hot topic in the IT sector today.  The internet has created quite a medium for content delivery of podcasts, blogs, webcasts, webinars, etc.  This blog itself is an example.  Storage solutions are abundant, but don't forget that some storage vendors charge you for every neat feature.  Yes you pay for that special hardware that does compression to save storage space.  You also pay for every one of those protocols that you need (iSCSI, CIFS, NFS, etc.) and let's not forget about those important data services for protection (replication, clustering, anti-virus engine, etc.)  Some vendors even charge big money when you grow out of your storage pool and want expansion.  Can you say fork lift upgrade?  Well not all storage vendors want to charge you twice.  As the storage market approaches commodity some of us are getting ahead of the curve.  It is true that all storage companies want to make money... but the difference is leading the way versus fighting against something that will happen anyway.  Even new fast storage hardware will become a commodity as others join with similar offerings. It is important to understand that storage today is heavily reliant on low level software such as device drivers, frameworks and protocols that enable the higher level software in the storage stack to simply work.  If a company can expose and open up the storage stack it has a good possibility to attract not only customers but developers as well... which is what I'll call a community.

At OpenSolaris.org there is a project being done by the community called COMSTAR (Common Multiprotocol SCSI Target).  It is a clever framework which enables protocol plug-ins which speak differnent flavors of storage like Fibre Channel, iSCSI, etc.  For me it is analogous to  the old port and class driver model of my youth.  For more info on COMSTAR click here

Also see what this community member has to say. Some other notables about the storage plumbing at OpenSolaris.  The COMSTAR effort puts code into the kernel for optimization.  It will improve upon the current iSCSI Target already available and in good use today.

Open sourcing the entire storage stack implies the storage plumbing too.  For example it enables this storage stack to work for you rather than you working to pay for that expensive storage solution.

Remember Sun's OS, middleware, database and infrastructure products have the following in common-- they are models of open sourced software that more and more customers are demanding from all vendors and providers.

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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