Sun Unveils Open Storage Appliances

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Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) has launched its first storage appliance family built on open source technology, bundling data management and analytics, simplified installation and mixed storage devices in a bid to capitalize on a need for lower-cost storage options.

Called “Amber Road,” the Sun Storage 7000 product family includes three systems, the 7110, 7210 and 7410, which range in capacity from 2 terabytes (TB) to 288 TB. All three are built on the company’s Open Solaris platform, part of the company’s open source storage initiatives.

In a Webcast yesterday, Sun said the new 7000-series Unified Storage System products offer five-minute setup, simple management and wide flexibility. The two higher-end systems — the Sun Storage 7210 and 7410 — use a mix of memory technologies, including dynamic random access memory (DRAM), flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives.

The mix, according to Sun, provides flexibility for avoiding bottlenecks and greater performance at lower energy costs. The entry-level 7110 appliance is geared for remote offices and small business, and includes only the hard disk drives.

The products arrive as Sun is feeling the sting from the economic climate, but the company’s open source storage efforts were one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal third-quarter earnings report last week.

Brian Babineau, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said that while Sun still needs to prove itself as a major storage player, the products do offer something enticing — a low cost factor.

The 7110 begins at $10,000, while the 7210 starts at $34,995 and the 7410 starts at $57,490 for a single-node, 12 TB version, and at $89,490 for a clustered 12TB configuration.

“With what is going on in the economy, anyone who has a functional, low-cost technology solution will turn a few heads,” said Babineau, who added that the industry will start paying closer attention to Sun if it produces consistent product cycles.

Other storage analysts gave Sun credit for continuing its commitment to open source storage technology. Yet they noted the products fall short of pushing Sun up the vendor ranks, given growing competition and economics that have many enterprises stalling on new purchases.

“This news rings all the right bells, and six or seven months ago, it would have resonated with buyers. But the problem now is that we have an economy in a full swoon,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Most enterprises aren’t looking to be adventurous.”

One feature that may sweeten the deal for enterprises is that the appliances include data services such as replication, thin provisioning and compression — add-on services that are typically sold as separate services. They also feature analytical tools for tracking performance, managing capacity planning and troubleshooting issues, and the 7410 includes clustering technology.

Additionally, the appliances also feature what Sun termed “self healing management” tools designed by Sun through its internal FishWorks project.

Sun’s FishWorks effort (with “Fish” being short for “Fully Integrated Software and Hardware”) is aimed at developing technologies to help enterprises diagnose, troubleshoot and fix storage system issues.

Article courtesy of

Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl is an experienced technology journalist who has served as a senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger for InformationWeek, Investors Business Daily, CNET, and Information Security Magazine, as well as other media outlets.

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