Friday Feb 27, 2009

It's a wrap! OpenSolaris Storage Summit

Thanks to all who attended Monday's OpenSolaris Storage Summit! We had lots of great talks from community members on OpenSolaris and storage and how the economics of Open Storage help them hold their own in the current economic environment.

Don MacAskill from Smugmug talked about what it takes to manage and serve the over 475 million photos on Don shared his investigations into OpenSolaris and ZFS that led to their purchase of some Sun Storage 7000s. Check out Don's picture from twitter...

Mike LaSpina, Comstar user extraordinaire, demonstrated Storage Re-provisioning with COMSTAR.  Mike's been a regular participant on the OpenSolaris Storage discussion alias.

Paddy Sreenivasan from Zmanda shared their experiences in getting their Zmanda packages ready for the OpenSolaris distro repository. Paddy and his team have helped the OpenSolaris porters community refine the process and tools.

Alex Barclay from the Laureate Institute for Brain Research talked about how they are combining clinical data, neuroimagery, DNA/RNA, protein, epigenetic factors to develop models of brain and disease. I appreciated the close look at the types of data and access patterns that Alex sees at the Institute. Alex and team ended up purchasing a Sun Unified Storage solution after his involvement in the September 08 Open Solaris Storage Summit and followup at SuperComputing 08.

Tucker Bradford from SETI talked about the outer reaches of data with ETI For The People: Addressing the Challenge of Massive Data Sharing. With the Allen Telescope Array coming online SETI expects to deal with 918 Exabytes of data each year! 

Special thanks to our Sun friends for their talks as well... Mike Shapiro on Sun Open Storage 2009-2010, Sunay Tripathi on Crossbow and Open Networking, Drew Wilson on Filebench Architecture, Eric Schrock on Storage FMA, and Adam Leventhal on ZFS, Cache, and Flash.

We concluded the day with a Community Marketplace and reception on the 36th floor of the Grand Hyatt. Wonderful views...

Ben Rockwood and Robin Harris                Northeast San Francisco Bay                Southeast San Francisco Bay
                          aka StorageMojo

Wednesday Feb 18, 2009

Countdown to the OpenSolaris Storage Summit

We're wrapping up the final details for next Monday's OpenSolaris Storage Summit and hope to see you there!

We have some great talks lined up (SmugMug, GoGrid, SETI along with the latest information on Sun's Open Storage efforts) and a Community Marketplace where you can chat with companies who are part of the OpenSolaris Storage community.

Here are the logistics for this FREE event.

The OpenSolaris Storage Summit
Monday February 23rd, 2009
8:30a PT - 7p PT

Grand Hyatt Hotel
345 Stockton Street

San Francisco, CA

You can sign up for this event and get more information at our OpenSolaris Storage Summit wiki.

We've colocated this event with the USENIX File and Storage Technologies (FAST 09) conference. The FAST event brings together storage system researchers and practitioners to explore new directions in the design, implementation, evaluation, and deployment of storage systems - a natural compliment to the OpenSolaris Storage community event.

Please join us at our FAST 09 Sun Birds of a Feather Wednesday, 2/25, at 7p PT.

Note: When you sign up for the OpenSolaris Storage Summit you receive a $100 discount on the FAST registration thanks to the USENIX folks.

Thursday Nov 20, 2008

OpenSolaris Storage... for the Mainframe

Last week I spoke on Managing Scalable Storage Environments with Solaris at the Sun Forum 2.0 storage customer conference. It was great to see our storage customers again and this year we also went live with streaming video for those customers who could not travel.

Many of our Forum customers have mainframes and we ended up chatting about OpenSolaris running on the z-series mainframes. Sine Nomine Associates has recently released a version of OpenSolaris for System z. You can also get more details at the opensolaris project page.

Bringing OpenSolaris Storage capabilities to the mainframe is an interesting value proposition. Not quite what we originally had in mind when we launched the Open Storage initiative here at Sun :\^) but certainly in the spirit of using open source software to make the most of your existing hardware in tough economic times.

Several of our OpenSolaris features have mainframe inspiration like fault management architecture (FMA) and hierarchical storage management with SAM , ADM and MMS (for cost effective tiered storage environments) so perhaps OpenSolaris on System z is not so surprising. And bringing innovative storage technologies like ZFS to the mainframe environment is a great opportunity to get feedback from folks who really know how to maximize use of storage resources.

Check out Jeff Savit's blog and comments on his experience with OpenSolaris on System z.

Sunday Nov 09, 2008

Opening up Unified Storage

Today Sun announced the Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems family -- a range of storage appliances built on the base of the OpenSolaris storage stack. Several years of investment in NFS, ZFS, iSCSI, CIFS, NDMP and the whizzy storage usage analytics built on top of DTrace have led to a very solid, cost-effective storage solution that's easy to install, configure and manage.

I've known many of the well known and not so well known engineers who made this product possible and I congratulate them all on an outstanding job. I'd also like to thank the OpenSolaris Storage and Appliance community members who have provided feedback over the years on what they'd like to see in a unified storage appliance. Your input is most welcome and has helped guide Sun in addressing those needs... and will continue to guide Sun (and other savvy companies) on what the community needs to solve the data management challenges of a radically different economy where proprietary solutions restrict not help broaden the options for managing explosive data growth. Open Storage solutions like the Sun Storage 7000 line help community members contain capital, management and ongoing power consumption costs by providing the latest software innovations and leveraging the latest hardware capabilities.

Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems -- a 21st century design for the storage needs of a new millennium.

Check out what Mike, Brian, and Adam have to say about their baby...

Friday Oct 03, 2008

When the Everyday is a gift...

My daughter walked to high school this morning and my husband dropped my son off at middle school on the way to an appointment. Pretty routine, pretty wonderful.

About two weeks ago we got news that we were expecting but didn't want to hear -- a quarter of my husband's heart wasn't getting blood when he picked up his activity level. You know something's up when the cardio technicians ask you to sit down in the middle of a stress test and suggest that you contact your cardiologist immediately.

This Tuesday my husband received his third stent and I was very impressed with the gains that have been made in cardio treatments since his last stent was put in 9 years ago. Folks are now using medicated stents to minimize the growth of scar tissue in the arteries and are using collagen plugs to close up the rather significant opening they have to put in the big artery in your groin to snake the equipment through your arteries and up to your heart. (The angioplasty process itself is an incredible advancement to heart care.)

I spent the last couple of days home with my husband doing the driving and lifting but those restrictions were lifted this morning. Modern healthcare technology is amazing and new advances are being made all the time. One of the most significant differences this time wasn't technology though... it was a new approach by hospital staff to keep a much more calm, less intrusive, more relaxed environment for the patient and their family.

While they watched my husband in the ICU, my kids and I were able to come and go into his room and the only "announcements" over the PA was a inspirational message at 9a each morning. Many thanks to the crew at Avista for our short stay.

Now we're back to our Everyday. And it's a gift.

Wednesday Jun 11, 2008

Cheap arrays with COMSTAR and your spare servers

We've been talking a lot lately about Open Storage... and how open source software and industry standard hardware can dramatically lower the cost of storage.

The latest entry in this Open Storage category is a cool project that just became available with the latest OpenSolaris community build -- COMSTAR, the Common Multiprotocol SCSI Target. Although it's full name sounds a little geeky COMSTAR lets you take a spare x86 server running OpenSolaris and create a cheap general purpose storage array. An Open Storage array.

Here's a little history on COMSTAR...

The prototype started in the spring of 2007 with the OpenSolaris project page showing up in July 2007.  Sumit led the implementation and John (shown here talking about iSCSI management) worked on the management aspects of the project.

While the framework has been developed by Sun engineers the port providers are being contributed by QLogic, Emulex and LSI. Here's a good illustration of the COMSTAR architecture.

Here are some good COMSTAR resources to help you get started...



We'd love to hear about your COMSTAR experiences... join the conversation on our OpenSolaris Storage discussion alias.

Tuesday Jun 03, 2008

Open and Highly Available

Sounds like a personal ad... but no. Just a few days ago the OpenSolaris community received the single largest contribution since it was formed with the original core of the OpenSolaris source code -- all of the Open HA Cluster source code is now available.

From Meena's email... "As with the previous contributions, Open HA Cluster includes the source-code for the product, source for the Sun Cluster Automated Test Environment (SCATE), documentation, and globalization. With this release you can build a functional Cluster from the source code. "

 How much code? Over 2 million lines of enterprise-quality clustering magic.

Nick Solter, the Open HA Cluster community manager, has more great information in his polymorphnick blog. Congratulations to the entire Open HA Cluster team!

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 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

- 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).


Lynn Rohrer-Oracle


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