Sun’s Honeycomb Hopes to Sweeten Storage

Research engineers at Sun Microsystems are creating a new storage
to help enterprises locate specific files within a large pool of data.

Sun is basing the network-attached storage machine
technology it calls Project Honeycomb, a cluster architecture that
uses new metadata and search tools to retrieve files in large storage systems much
more efficiently. Files could include e-mail attachments or medical
such as x-rays.

Honeycomb senior project manager Mike Davis said the software/hardware
combination was created to help customers tap into millions of stored,
static files, spanning several terabytes . The product
be offered as a 3U (5.25 inch) standalone machine, or used as a
complement with other equipment in a data center.

Sun has recently decided to make Solaris the primary operating system, with
a potential for additional OS support a possibility. It is likely the
hardware would run AMD’s Opteron chips, of late the chip Sun chooses to
bring new products to bear. But Davis didn’t rule out the possibility
Honeycomb might run on Intel-based machines as well.

Although there is no set time frame for Honeycomb to become generally available,
Davis said his team feels some urgency because of the success of the
previous NAS machines, the StorEdge 5210 and 5310.

“They’re starting to ramp up and we want to make sure there’s not too
of a gap before we get to this next-generation, leapfrog-the-industry
of thing,” Davis said. “We’re in the process of overlapping the two
and saying ‘What if we can put metadata and search into a generic NAS

Honeycomb is in pre-beta test with select customers, whom Davis refused
name. He did say Honeycomb will not be ready in time for Sun’s next
quarterly announcements in February.

The idea of fast file return is becoming popular throughout the IT
Compliance regulations are placing stringent demands on enterprises,
in turn ask software and hardware vendors to make systems that help
rapidly call up files.

EMC , IBM , Sun offer storage
systems tailored to provide so-called information lifecycle management
strategies for businesses. EMC makes the Centera file system and IBM’s brand is called SAN File System storage software.

But Sun and IBM, whose researchers are working on improving search in middleware, are quickly warming up to the
of providing fine-grained search in their information management

Davis said the industry seems to be heading
toward a convergence of storage and search.

“A lot of people are coming to the realization that large-scale storage
some ways is more of a database problem than a disk problem,” Davis
“We want to give the customers choice. We want to give them the ability
see that capability intrinsically built into their storage systems.”

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.
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