Friday Jan 22, 2010

Moshi Monsters Running Wild with Sun Technology


Mind Candy, launched in 2004, is a leading developer of multi-player games targeted at the rapidly expanding social online games market. Its main product, Moshi Monsters, is its biggest hit to date and is enjoying exponential growth with over 10 million players worldwide, and more than one million new players subscribing each month. The game relies heavily on an IT platform managed by Mind Candy, and became the focus of the company’s attention in 2009, when the number of players was set to top 4 million.
Sun Customer Mind Candy
(Image courtesy: Mind Candy)
At that point, Mind Candy realized it needed to make changes to its IT infrastructure. The Moshi Monsters infrastructure is based on the Java Platform, Standard Edition 6 running Debian GNU/Linux. It includes Apache Tomcat Web application servers, memcached and PostgreSQL databases as well as open source frameworks such as Spring and Hibernate. Prior to the upgrade, Mind Candy already had Sun Fire X2100 servers acting as load balancers, and chose to make the use of Intel’s new “Nehalem” Xeon processors a key criterion for the update.

Working with Sun as a member of the Sun Startup Essentials program, Mind Candy finalized the infrastructure expansion design based on two of Sun’s newest Xeon-processor based servers, the Sun Fire X4170 servers for applications working alongside a Sun Fire X4270 server for one of the platform’s main databases. The new Sun solutions were installed in just a couple of days, and deployed alongside the existing equipment. The Sun Fire X4170 servers gave Mind Candy significantly higher I/O speeds, along with multithreading technology for greater performance and power management. The Sun Fire X4270 server provided more than four times the processing performance and memory, and doubled the number of disk drive bays to 16.

Since the full solution went live in July 2009, Toby Moore, Chief Technology Officer at Mind Candy said the performance and scalability of the new platform has fully justified the company’s investment. He stated: “The platform is incredibly fast. Before, the CPU utilization rate for our database servers was about 70%, but now it’s dropped to 15%. The speed of our Tomcat Web application servers has doubled, and the amount of RAM on our servers has quadrupled.” In addition to the increased speed, the Sun platform consumes relatively low amounts of energy, and still has plenty of headroom for expansion. The company is now looking to focus on storage and has plans to deploy a Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System in the near future.

Check out the complete details and a podcast here.

Friday Oct 23, 2009

Sun Unified Storage Helps Elanders Reduce Costs and Increase Performance


Elanders is a global publishing company based in Gothenburg, Sweden that packages and distributes information in a variety of formats to include manuals, brochures, and magazines, as well as online content and multimedia for international brands such as IKEA, Nokia, and Volvo. Elanders archives these documents and images on its systems at its main office, and at two remote sites for up to ten years following publication. Until recently, Elanders used technology from EMC for day-to-day storage, archiving, and back up, but this technology was quickly approaching the end of its lifecycle.
Sun Customer Elanders
Sun Customer Elanders
Elanders needed to decide between upgrading the existing system or selecting a new approach. In addition to adding storage capacity, Elanders was also looking to improve performance, reduce the burden of administration, and cut overall costs. Elanders selected a system provided by Sun partner Konsulthuset MMI, because of the highly scalable solution it proposed along with the support provided by Sun.

Konsulthuset MMI set Elanders up with the new open-technology based Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System, because of its cost-efficient industry standard components as well as a robust software stack built from OpenSolaris TM and running Solaris ZFS. Elanders deployed a 66TB Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System at the Gothenburg datacenter, with additional systems at the two remote offices, handling 23 TB each. The new solution can easily be scaled to accommodate up to 576 TB of information, and is able to quickly and easily add capacity in increments.

With its new solution in place, Elanders is not only free of licensing fees for protocols and data services, but is also reducing costs by lowering power consumption and cooling requirements, consuming up to 500% less power than with its previous solution. Magnus Befwe, Manager of IT Operations and Infrastructure at Elanders said: “We were really impressed by the commitment of Sun and Konsulthuset MMI. The technology that they recommended offers us advantages on so many levels, from greater simplicity and reduced energy consumption to reducing the costs associated with storage data services licensing.”

Check out the complete details here.

Sunday May 10, 2009

Sun News -- The Week in Review


Weekly Sun News recap from me and Maijaliisa is now available. Listen to the short segment below to get all the highlights.


Saturday May 09, 2009

The Storage Architect's Amber Road Review -- Part II


Amber Road

Hybrid Storage Pool Model for Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Family

In his continuing series, Chris Evans of The Storage Architect blog took another in-depth look at the Amber Road platform. In this post, he turned his sights on the disk components of the hardware, specifically looking at the use of flash (SSD) drives and ZFS to produce a commodity storage device.

Chris began with a primer on ZFS, sharing the basic concepts and bringing the filesystem features to life and what they bring to the Amber Road platform. He also provided an overview of the Unified Storage System's cache architecture, noting the adaptive replacement cache and the ZFS intent log, and the fault tolerance and performance these features offer the 7000 series.

Chris picked up the core difference between Amber Road and traditional storage devices. "In a typical general storage array there will be LUNs presented to hosts which are very active, some moderately active and some totally inactive." He noted that Amber Road provides and alternative to the traditional "Long Tail" model, highlighting "fronting disk access with SSD ensures that high performance is dynamically provided to LUNs as it is needed."

Overall, Chris is positive about the architectural choices made for Amber Road and was unable to find fault via his evaluation. "I can say that in the testing I performed, the array coped easily with the workload I threw at it," he stated.

Chris' next post will be an in-depth look at the analytics provided by Amber Road and how it allows detailed device reporting.

Thursday May 07, 2009

Network World's Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System Review


Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Series
Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System

Network World's Logan Harbaugh tested the Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System, giving it a rating of 3.75 out of 5.0. In his review, Logan focused his evaluation on the system's architecture, performance and business analytics, and noted that the unit "is certainly a high-performance offering."

Logan highlighted the test system's configurations (noting the read- and write-enabled SSDs, Quad-core Opteron-based 7410 controllers, SATA drives and J4400 drive shelves) leading to a discussion of the 7410's clustering capabilities.

The reviewer next turned his focus to the 7410's performance. He employed IOmeter, configured with four sets of application-based workloads to simulate storage traffic. Logan noted, "Performance of the single controller system, as far as our limited test bed could verify, was excellent."

Logan also took a look at management and reporting capabilities. He commented, "the business analytics section of the GUI-based admin interface contains very useful monitoring tools, with the ability to drill down to specific interfaces, network or storage protocols."

He went on to describe that reports are available in a very wide variety of formats, with many variations. Further, he noted that reports are available for disk IO, overall storage utilization, and historical data is available and the amount of storage used for logging can be adjusted to keep data for longer or shorter periods of time.

Logan concluded, that the system is "clearly positioned - in terms of price, feature set and performance capacity - to go toe-to-toe with big systems from NetApp and EMC that are designed to support dozens of connected servers simultaneously." And regarding performance, Logan reiterated that "while we could not push the box to its capacity, we were impressed by what it could handle in our test environment."

The full review is here.

Wednesday Apr 29, 2009

The Storage Architect's take on Amber Road


Amber Road
Sun Storage 7210 Unified Storage System

Chris Evans of "The Storage Architect" blog posted part one in a series of reviews of the Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System, saying, "Over the last month, I've been reviewing the 7210 array (the mid-range offering) and as an early product release, I can say I like it."

Chris framed the review against the increasing trend of centralized storage in the datacenter, and said the most unique part of the system is Sun's use of "solid state to drive performance out of the commodity SATA drives in the array."

As part of an introduction to the product line, Chris discussed the use of highly scalable storage solutions built on commodity hardware and open software components. Compared to other vendors, Chris noted that Sun is "taking the approach of offering all current and future software features as part of the standard hardware cost. This extends to the lifetime of the technology, so as new software features are made available in future releases, the customer can simply upgrade the USS and take advantage of them at no extra cost."

Overall the reviewer was quite positive about the Sun Storage 7210, noting that Sun has differentiated its offering from other "server as a storage array" solutions. "From a hardware perspective, what's more interesting is the use of solid state to drive performance out of the commodity SATA drives in the array," he stated.

Chris concluded by noting in his next post, he'll be examining ZFS in more depth.

I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of the series...

Sunday Apr 19, 2009

EasySpeedy Deploys Amber Road for Cost-Effective Growth


EasySpeedy, a Danish hosting company, wanted to offer a data storage service that scaled quickly across multiple protocols. Their goal was to offer customers a flexible solution, which is inexpensive to manage and easily meets growing demand.

After evaluating several alternatives, the company selected Sun Open Storage featuring Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System and Sun Storage J4400 array as their solution.
EasySpeedy

Logo Courtesy: EasySpeedy
Peter Lerche, CEO at EasySpeedy, noted, "Sun Open Storage was a perfect fit for our open concept at the heart of EasySpeedy, where the customer has the power. With Open Storage, we are not locked into one product line and proprietary protocols. Sun gives us the ability to build the architecture that suits our needs. With Open Storage we have freedom, rather than being bound hand and foot."

He added: "Thanks to Sun Open Storage, EasySpeedy can cost-effectively scale data storage on demand to meet the needs of customers. What is more, the platform helps minimize power consumption and makes day-to-day management simple."

Check out the complete details here.

Thursday Apr 16, 2009

Amber Road receives "Editors Choice" award in IT Pro review


Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Series
Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System

IT Pro's Dave Mitchell reviewed the Sun Storage 7410 and gave the unit 5 out of 6 stars and as well as an Editor's Choice award. Dave stated, "Sun delivers a unique network storage solution with more standard features than the rest and no hidden charges."

The reviewer examined installation, configuration and noted some observations about the quad-core 2300 Opteron architecture, "this server is quite unique as it can accept an extra mezzanine tray with two more Opteron sockets making it the only 2U quad-socket AMD server on the market."

Further, Dave discussed the file system, protocol support for shares and performance. "We found real world speeds particularly good as copying a 2.52GB video clip to and from an iSCSI target returned read and write speeds of 89MB/sec and 72MB/sec. Using the FileZilla client showed FTP speeds to be even faster with it reporting impressive read and write rates of 103MB/sec and 92MB/sec. CIFS usually puts the brakes on speed but even here we saw file copies returning rates of 66MB/sec and 59MB/sec," he noted.

Overall, Dave stated, "Add up the standard features on the Sun Storage 7410 plus its hardware specification and it looks good value - especially when compared with much of the competition at this level of the market. Furthermore, along with NAS and IP SAN support, it offers a massive expansion potential and good performance across a range of protocols."

Monday Mar 02, 2009

ILM Informatique on Amber Road: "We recommend it"


Amber Road Analytics
Real-time analysis screenshot of the Amber Road storage system

The folks at ILM Informatique has published a very detailed review of the Sun Storage 7110 Unified Storage System. This Amber Road review is available in English here, and in French here.

After providing the specific of the unit they received, ILM Informatique goes over the installation, functionalities, performance as well as additional functionalities they would like to see.

Their final conclusion:

"The Sun Storage 7110 server we tested made the brilliant demonstration of its velocity and was easy to configure. Solaris and its ZFS filesystem using the full power of the hardware. At $10,995, you will not regret your investment. It will be very difficult to find the bottleneck of the server moreover it will keep your files safe.

We recommend this model for a group of 20 to 200 users."

Thursday Feb 19, 2009

Stellar InfoWorld Review of Sun Storage 7210 Unified Storage System (Amber Road)


Amber Road Analytics
Real-time analysis screenshot of the Amber Road storage system

Infoworld's Paul Venezia reviewed the Sun Storage 7210 Unified Storage System (Amber Road) and accompanying FISHworks management platform, rating it a stellar 9.2 out of 10 and noting, "The Sun Storage 7210 Unified Storage System's combination of 48 drives, SSD log storage, broad protocol support, ZFS, and amazing GUI make for one great filer."

Paul took a comprehensive look at the unit's management features, including its real-time monitoring and analytics capabilities. After only a few minutes of use with FISHworks he noted, "I was smitten. It's very attractive and very accessible. In fact, it may be the most complete filer interface I've ever seen, blowing the doors off Network Appliance's Web-based manager." Paul drilled down into the GUI, highlighting its instant feedback on load and throughput as well as the worksheets ability to provide easy at-a-glance status reports.

Turning his attention to the hardware, Paul configured a storage pool and tested performance via a number of access protocols. For NFS access via Linux, he highlighted that creation of a 10GB file performed at near wire-rate over a gigabit NIC. Paul also noted the solid performance of sequential reads and writes to NFS3, NFS4, iSCSI and CIFS, calling out the 55 to 60MBps throughput while under load. "Again, this is very close to wire-rate speeds," he stated.

Overall, Paul was very positive about his experience with the 7210 concluding, "The market for multilingual filers has plenty of players, from NetApp to Adaptec, but in terms of bang for the buck, Sun's 7210 is in rare territory. Regardless of price, son of Thumper is a uniquely complete representation of what a filer should be."

Wednesday Jan 28, 2009

Great Sun Storage Unified System (Amber Road) Review in PC Pro

Sun Storage 7110 Unified Storage System
Sun Storage 7110 Unified Storage System
The January issue of PC Pro has a very positive Amber Road review. The reviewer, Dave Mitchell, tested an entry-level Sun Storage 7110 Unified Storage System and he was quited impressed, calling it "something special."

Dave examined installation, performance and key features such as DTrace and the bevy of supported protocols. "The 7110 proved quick, with Iometer reporting a speedy 112MB/sec raw read throughput for one iSCSI target," he noted. Further, "real-world speeds for iSCSI were good, as copying a 2.52GB video returned read and write speeds of 89MB/sec and 76MB/sec. FTP was even faster with the FileZilla client reporting read and write speeds of 99MB/sec and 86MB/sec using the same test file."

In closing, the reviewer commented, "The 7110 delivers a complete network storage solution with no hidden catches. Both NAS and IP SAN are supported, performance is very good, and Sun won't be beaten on value."

PC Pro's final verdict: "The 7110 is the storage host with the most since it offers NAS and IP SAN support - all as standard."

Of course, the product got "PC Pro Recommended" status. :-)

Friday Nov 14, 2008

InfoWorld: Sun's ZFS has more tricks up its sleeve


InfoWorld's Logan Harbaugh posted a review under "Storage Adviser" column, discussing the various features of ZFS present in the recently announced Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems.

Logan said the "most alluring features are the file system and the analytics made available through SNIA-standard RPC calls, using the DTrace fault tracing system included in OpenSolaris."
ZFS
Of the specific features, Logan called out the Hybrid Storage Pools, "which integrate DRAM, read-optimized SSDs, write-optimized SSDs, and regular disk into a seamless whole." The use of DTrace in the system "make all sorts of performance data available," which Logan said will also allow for very granular optimization. Logan then listed several features such as the clustering capabilities of ZFS, data services, support for a variety of protocols, and FISHworks storage system as providing the system "a lot of potential."

Overall, Logan commented, "the Sun hardware should provide good capabilities at a good price. But the best part is that the software magic is also available through the open source OpenSolaris and ZFS, as long as the hardware you choose has all the parts necessary to fully utilize the ZFS capabilities."

Thursday Nov 13, 2008

InfoWorld's First Take on Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems


In this initial review on the Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems, InfoWorld's Paul Venezia discussed what the new products represent to the storage market. Paul said, "what the 7210 and its brethren provide is an elegant storage framework that includes the best-of-breed ZFS file system coupled with read- and write-biased SSDs, support for CIFS, iSCSI, NDMP, FTP, (and others) driven by a truly breathtaking interface."

Paul discussed some of the product features, such as how the SSDs vary among the product line, and cited Sun engineers who "claimed that the addition of the read-biased SSD caching in conjunction with ZFS' predictive caching algorithms means that 7,200-rpm SATA drives perform just as well, if not better than 10K SAS drives." Paul went on to note that he has been "a fan of ZFS for some time now, and it's only getting better and better."

Paul also discussed the evolution of storage, and the challenges faced from storing large amounts of data, backing up data, and the user interface with searching through the data. Against these challenges, "the new capabilities offered with products like the Sun 7000-series storage appliances are paving the way for new takes on old ideas, such as video-on-demand."

Paul is soon going to publish a full product review but for now, "it's really impressive to be able to quickly pull up real-time user- and file-level throughput statistics complete with live graphs."
Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems
He concluded the post with a quote from a character from The Simpsons, saying, "In the immortal words of Kent Brockman, I, for one, welcome our new storage overlords." :-)

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