Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

Open Storage... from a community perspective

Today Sun is providing a view into the heart of our storage strategy -- Open Storage -- the combination of open source storage software and industry standard hardware that delivers cost effective, open solutions for a new generation of storage challenges.


The team I hang out with spent the last year delivering on Sun's April 10, 2007 commitment to open source our Solaris-based storage software. It's been an exciting year... partly because of the open source contributions we've seen from our storage vendor friends, QLogic, Emulex, and Hitachi Data Systems, as well as the community members like Digitar and Joyent who have put the OpenSolaris storage capabilities into action in their datacenters.

Over the past couple of weeks we have had the good fortune to chat with some of our other OpenSolaris Storage community members and I'd like to share these interviews with you to provide a community perspective on Open Storage.

The first interview is with Evan Powell, CEO for Nexenta. I'm impressed with the work that these folks have done to deliver unique value on top of the OpenSolaris code base and create their NexentaStor software-based NAS and iSCSI solution. I particularly like this quote..."Sure... OpenSolaris is open and that may raise some concerns among certain buyers but what is really riskier? Supporting open standards including open access to your data so you can own your data... or continue to pay ever-increasing sums to legacy [storage] vendors."

The second interview is with Greg Perry, CEO for LiveAmmo. LiveAmmo is a leading provider of instructor-led training classes and products, with a specific focus on enterprise storage, infrastructure, and virtualization technologies. "We put [students] through the paces of converting a physical machine into a virtual machine and illustrate things like clustering, high availability and workload balancing [with] all the bells and whistles that to with enterprise virtualization. All of that is predicated on an enterprise storage container... and until we ran into Sun it was just not cost effective. If we wanted to run 100 simultaneous classes with 10-15 students in each class that's a significant workload -- quite a bit of bandwidth [with] 100s or 1000s of virtual machines working simultaneously. Cost per GB to get from point A to point B [in] our datacenter model was not something we could make work until we found a commodity-based storage approach that was not based on a proprietary hardware set and proprietary SAN device. "Necessity is the mother of invention". Over time it evolved into a much more cost-effective platform based largely on OpenSolaris."

I don't know that I could say it any better. Real people, Real Open Storage solutions.

Tuesday Mar 18, 2008

Open SAM and Shared QFS...

Sun just finished open sourcing our current Solaris storage software stack by making available the source code of the next release of SAM-FS and Shared QFS on opensolaris.org. We had promised our boss (3rd removed) a little over a year ago that we would open source all of our Solaris storage software by the end of June 2008. We did it! With just over three months to spare.

But back to SAM and Shared QFS...

SAM is a heirarchical storage (HSM) and archive manager which provides automated policy management for users to easily administer large volumes of data stored across different tiers of storage from fast expensive disk to commodity storage devices to inexpensive, eco-friendly tape.

QFS is a Solaris-based cluster file system whose performance is ideally suited for data streaming and transactional applications.

The SAM and QFS release under development is aimed at folks with large storage environments who need hundreds or thousands of clients accessing the Shared QFS data servers. To reach this magnitude of scalability, Shared QFS has been extended to use an object model for the data servers which we discussed recently at FAST. Users now choose between the Shared QFS block or object file systems depending on their scalability requirements.

But wait... there's more. SAM which routinely manages petabytes of data has also been updated to improve performance for the archive, catalog and scheduler components.

Lots of thanks are due to the SAM-QFS team. But I'd like to start with Ted who managed the entire open source process (as well as the engineers) and especially Harriet who first made SAM available in 1992 followed by Shared QFS in 2002.

Want to read more? Check out these blogs -- Margaret, Umang and Josh.

Monday Mar 03, 2008

FAST lane...

A handful of Sun folks attended FAST (USENIX File and Storage Technologies) last week along with around 450 other attendees -- the largest FAST to date. This event focuses on research related to file and storage technologies.

It was great talking to various university folks... and I was thrilled to hear that several are evaluating a move to OpenSolaris. There are several new technologies in OpenSolaris that fit nicely into university curriculum (ZFS, DTrace, Fault Management, Service Management Facility, pNFS, Automatic Data Migration, Crossbow, COMSTAR) as well as providing a resilient, scalable research platform for various data and storage management topics.

Here are the  Sun topics from FAST...

Sun's Works in Progress
- Filebench, Drew Wilson

Sun's Poster Sessions
- Shared QFS Object-Based Storage File System  Abstract
Todd Pisek, Sun Microsystems
- N_Port ID Virtualization for Solaris/Xen  Abstract
Aaron Dailey, Sun China Engineering and Research Institute
- The New and Improved FileBench  Abstract
   Andrew Wilson, Sun Microsystems

Sun BOF
- OpenSolaris Storage, Jeff Cheeney

See you next year at FAST!

Sunday Feb 24, 2008

Breaking Radio Silence...

Somehow almost three months have slipped by without a blog post in a rush of images that include SuperComputing 2007, an unexpected Thanksgiving trip, travel every week of December, a forced hiatus from the internet over Christmas and New Years, more travel and work reviews in January and February, parent-teacher conferences... Crazy man...

It's that time of life when you're busy living, working, parenting and trying to fit in creative moments to help inspire the day to day.

Toward that end, with our 12 and 14 year old kids away for the weekend snowboarding at Faceplant (a multi-church ski/snowboard weekend), my husband and I spent 12 hours and 20 minutes yesterday watching the Oscar nominated Best Picture movies... 

Best Motion Picture of the Year

All fine movies with parts that are quite technically good but it was Juno that caused the full theater to break out into spontaneous applause after the movie ended. The applause-o-meter ratings for Michael Clayton came in just behind.

Even on personal time my mind still wanders back to data... and thinking about how much better the experience would have been if the theater had been streaming the video directly. The copy of Michael Clayton had a damaged audio track and the theater offered a free movie pass to the 200+ folks who were in the movie viewing marathon (~$2000 loss - ouch).

Sun provides a couple of solutions for video -- an appliance configuration wtih StreamStar and a reference architecture using Shared QFS and Solaris Cluster (currently deployed at HBO). We'd be happy to help movie distribution and theater companies with a less costly, less error-prone, higher quality movie distribution and viewing experience. How can we help simplify your data management?
 

Tuesday Nov 06, 2007

Sharing data in a Microsoft way... Welcome to the CIFS server!

I've had the great pleasure to watch a very hard working team deliver the CIFS server recently allowing OpenSolaris to serve files to Microsoft CIFS clients. Our lead developer, Alan Wright, did a great job sheparding the delivery of 370,000 lines (more or less) into OpenSolaris. Several existing components in the OpenSolaris kernel also had to be modified to support this in-kernel CIFS service. Alan's blog describes the advantages of supporting CIFS from inside the kernel.

Remarkable job... especially with a wildfire burning at their backs filling the Sun facility in Irvine with smoke during the critical last few days of the delivery. Our CIFS folks hung in there to make the putback. Special thanks to Barry Greenberg as well for managing the effort from the people side of the equation.

For more details on the effort check out these blog entries:

The CIFS server joins the Active Directory integration project, Share Manager and the CIFS client project in the effort to improve our OpenSolaris-Windows interoperability and management story.

I'll never forget an Interop  show in Atlanta some years back where I was doing Sun booth duty and showing off our Solstice Backup software (courtesy of Legato). A fellow came up to me and told me in no uncertain terms that unless Sun and Solaris started interoperating with Microsoft and Windows he wasn't going to buy a dang thing from Sun. After I discreetly wiped his saliva off my face (he was that mad) I told him to hang in there... that we wanted to solve the problem. And we're well on the way. The Sun is starting to shine in Redmond.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Automate the Automounter...

Ever wished you could automate your NFS automounter maps?

Our NFS team just put back NFSv4 mirror mounts (an NFS namespace extension project) to OpenSolaris which allows an NFSv4 client to automatically mount the shared file systems it discovers on an NFSv4 server. No automounter maps to update or push. Just discover and go.

One of the design goals we've had in Solaris Storage Software over the past 4-5 years has been to simplify the management of storage and data resources. ZFS kicked off this drive for simplicity and we're using this simple-is-better philosophy to help get to Storage Nirvana -- self managing storage. The journey alone will yield relief (and some peace) from how we traditionally manage storage.

For folks who'd like to listen to a great overview of the NFsv4 Namespace Extensions projects check out Rob Thurlow's screencast.

Sunday Oct 21, 2007

Superbowl lessons

My 14 year old daughter's youth football team won their Superbowl game yesterday (!) and I was just mulling over some lessons I've learned from her this football season.

Get to your spot . Kate heard this more times that she cared to remember this season. As a defensive end, her "spot" on the right side was just inside the line of scrimmage to make sure that no one ran the ball around her end. Her other job was to interfere with any passes that came her way. Oh.. and sack the quarterback (more on that later).

In yesterday's game Kate -- the tallest and skinniest kid on her team -- was double-teamed and slammed to the ground as often as possible. Another big kid, Chandler, was fighting off two offensive line guys all game as well. It appeared that the other team's strategy was to wear out the two biggest kids on defense in hopes of opening up scoring opportunities. In a display of true teamwork, the rest of the defensive team stepped up to the challenge and stopped several runs and passes.

On the offense side of the story, our team was able to put 6 points on the scoreboard in the first quarter but the rest of the game was a hard fought battle moving up and down the field with no further points from either team.

Fast forward to the end of the game. The other team was just inside the 10 yard line with one last play to go when they sent all of their eligible receivers into the end zone. Kate brushed by her opponent and ran toward the quarterback with arms fully extended anticipating a pass. In just a few heartbeats she reached the quarterback, wrapped those long arms around him and danced him to the ground ending their drive and the game.

The other team Moms exploded (they're Kate's most ardent fans) while I almost broke my voice hollering. What a great ending to a very tough game. We shouldn't have won on paper. The other team was bigger and more experienced... and to be fair... well coached. But everyone did their job and put their heart into the game and sometimes that means more than size or experience.

Day in... Day out... Get to your spot. Seize the opportunity when it comes along.

You can learn a lot from your kids if you just let them teach you.

Today we had the Superbowl party. Kate received the "Queen of the team"  (she was the only girl in the football conference) and "King of sacks" awards. I have to give a lot of credit to Kate's coaches. They took a chance on a kid who had never played football , dealt with the ensuing dynamics on the team ("how am I supposed to tackle a girl?"), never let up on her and always encouraged her.


 

Monday Sep 10, 2007

Open Standards + Open Source = Open Storage

Several of us Sun storage software types are at the SNIA Storage Developer Conference this week in San Jose, CA. The agenda has shaped up nicely and attendees can hear talks on everything from device updates and protocols all the way up the software stack to the latest in file systems (ZFS) to SNIA's fixed content standards effort -- XAM (eXtensible Access Method).

Helping to kick off the conference will be Richard Stallman talking about free software following by other keynotes including Jeff Bonwick's "The General-Purpose Storage Revolution" talk.

Think about that... free and open software... general purpose components... for storage.

When we started down the path to open sourcing our Solaris Storage software a couple of years ago very few folks in the storage industry were interested in having a conversation about open source software and general purpose components to solve storage problems.

While the storage industry is still dominated by proprietary companies change is on the wind. I like Sun's position in the upcoming storm. We're focused on collaboration (open standards) and sharing (open source) to bring about innovation (open storage).


 Oh... the memory stick? It's our OpenSolaris Storage Starter Kit that we'll be giving away at the conference. Hurry... I think they'll go fast. You can get one by showing us your OpenSolaris user registration at the conference (while supplies last).

Wednesday Aug 29, 2007

SUNW, JAVA, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding

I have to admit that I've gone through some back-and-forth inside my own head about Sun's choice to change our stock symbol from SUNW to JAVA. I've been with Sun long enough now that I joke that I started with Sun straight out of junior high school :\^) and I guess I've just gotten used to SUNW.

This Sunday we were rewatching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and I caught a line that seemed appropriate in light of the stock symbol change...

Nick Portokalos: Don't let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.
Toula Portokalos: Nick that's beautiful.
Nick Portokalos: Yeah that dear Abby really knows what she's talking about. 

Thanks Dear Abby...

Tuesday Aug 07, 2007

Solaris... "a veritable swiss army knife for tossing data to and fro.."

We received the following quote from an OpenSolaris Storage community member recently...

"I've been watching various storage-related projects spring up, and RFE putbacks and have notice (with a grin on my face) how Solaris is being positioned as the most excellent storage OS. A veritable swiss army knife for tossing data to and fro."
 
 

This was in response to our OpenSolaris Comstar project -- Common Multiprotocol SCSI Target -- a neat piece of  infrastructure that will provide a common framework for iSCSI , Fibre Channel, and iSER target functionality in Solaris.

The word's getting out... OpenSolaris and Solaris make great storage platforms.

We've had good luck using Solaris in a number of our storage offerings -- Thumper (Sun Fire X4500), Honeycomb (STK5800), and the STK Virtual Tape Library Plus. The scalability of Solaris along with our focused storage software investments -- ZFS, (p)NFS, SAM-FS, Shared QFS, iSCSI and Fibre Channel infrastructure -- helps Sun offer innovative storage appliances built out of commodity building blocks from our own server, disk, and tape portfolios.

Solaris runs on many platforms other than Sun (789 non-Sun systems for Solaris 10, 851 non-Sun systems for Solaris Express Developer Edition). And supports over 1565 components such as external storage subsystems, networking cards, and other i/o devices.

Can we help you create a great storage solution? Let us know how we can help...

Tuesday Jul 24, 2007

Progressive social hour... (recipes)

We had a nice progressive social hour today... grabbed a drink and then hit different offices for Mexican chips/dips, Spanish tapas, Italian breads, and good old 'merican artery clogging sausage, cheese and Rotel dip. Thanks Mike, Deb, and Scott!

I did the tapas and was asked about this particular item... (aren't recipes the original open source?)

New Potatoes with Spanish Olive Tapenade

12 new potatoes (boiled until just done, sliced in half, little scoop from the middle for the tapenade)
Note: I think you could also use hollowed out cherry tomatoes...
Spanish Olive Tapenade (partial recipe from Gourmet Magazine) 

  • 1/2 cup Spanish olives with pimento
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons drained capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Had these with a nice Argentine Malbec (yum) because I couldn't find the Spanish Tempranillo I thought I had downstairs.

Other tapas included Manchego cheese with grape tomatoes in herbed olive oil and Manchego with dried apricots... both on skewers. Although not technically a tapa, I also served fresh berries glued onto brownie bites with the following frosting. Gotta have that chocolate fix!

Browning Frosting (don't forget the fresh berries on top!)

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup Cool Whip (ummm... it works well in this recipe)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tblsp powered sugar

Enjoy... 

Friday Jul 20, 2007

OpenSolaris... going native in Microsoft land

Over beer last night I learned that the first code drop of our native OpenSolaris CIFS client was scheduled for release today. OpenSolaris can now access files on file servers that speak the Microsoft CIFS protocol (SMB).

Great job Rob, Mark, Pavan and crew!

This CIFS client project is a nice complement to the OpenSolaris Winchester project which enables OpenSolaris to operate in a native Active Directory (AD) environment.
 

Oh... the beer? Laughing Lab Scottish Ale. A great beer from Colorado Spring's Bristol Brewing Company.



 

Monday Jul 02, 2007

#1 Employer in Broomfield and Boulder counties...

I was reading one of our local papers, the Boulder Dailey Camera, this morning over coffee and the business section had their annual survey of the largest local companies. Sun came in first again this year with 3471 employees closely followed by IBM at 3400 employees.

I started doing some math after a couple of cups of coffee and noticed two things:

  • 10% of Sun's employees are employed here in Colorado
  • 1% of IMB's employees are employed in Colorado
  • Sun's employees cranked out about $380K in revenue last year
  • IBM's employees delivered about $257.5K

 

Now I'm a Sun die-hard and a little biased but I'm proud of a team that delivers strong revenue per employee. 

We have some other great high tech firms here at the foot of the Rocky Mountains -- Ball Aerospace, Level(3), Seagate, Covidien, Amgen, West Corp., Lockheed Martin, Sandoz, Micro Motion, Ricoh, Xilinx, EDS, Epsilon, Medtronic, Lexmark, DigitalGlobe, and Array BioPharma to name some of the bigger employers. We suspect two other storage-related companies would be in the top mix, Brocade and McData, but didn't supply their company's bios.

Storage, printers, biotech, device monitoring, internet infrastructure... hmmm... wonder what kind of interesting mashup could come from the folks in these fields?


Tuesday Jun 26, 2007

The quest for 10K+ shared file system clients...

... has reached a significant open milestone today. The Solaris parallel NFS prototype has been posted on the OpenSolaris pNFS project page. Sun and a number of our IETF friends are busy finishing up the pNFS standard which uses a metadata and data server architecture much like a number of proprietary shared file systems available today -- Luster, Panasas, and others. Here's a picture I borrowed:

 

What sets the pNFS effort apart is the marriage of open standards and open source. The pNFS standards and interoperability efforts are benefiting from the Linux pNFS work at the University of Michigan as well as the OpenSolaris community pNFS effort. Just a week or so ago, pNFS vendors got together in Austinfor a Bakeoff to do interoperability testing. The open standards and open source collaboration are really starting to bear fruit... (that's all that we're allowed to say :\^)

 Want to know more about pNFS and how it might fit in your environment? Check out Robin Harris' blog for a great overview.
 

Test drive this snapshot and network replication vehicle...

and let us know what you think. Sun's StorageTek Availability Suite is now free to download and ready for the open road.

 

It's now officially summer and a roadtrip sounds good. While it looks like it was a bit chilly at Stonehenge,

 

we started off summer here in Broomfield (Colorado) with record setting heat (97 F) and we've stayed in the 90+ F range each day since!


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Lynn Rohrer

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