Sun Gives Open Storage a High-Performance Twist

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Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) yesterday rolled out a new data storage system for high-performance computing, the latest offering in its Open Storage efforts.

Just a week after merger talks with IBM (NYSE: IBM) reportedly fell apart, Sun showed it remains focused on business with a host of new server, storage and network offerings.

The new Sun Lustre Storage System is the high-end complement to the Sun Storage 7000 product lineup unveiled last fall.

Based on the Lustre file system, Sun Fire X4250 and X4540 servers and Sun Storage J4400 and J4200 arrays, it scales capacity from 48 terabytes to multiple petabytes and I/O throughput from 1 GB per second to more than 100 GB per second.

Sun said the new storage system simplifies Lustre deployment with pre-defined metadata server and object storage server configurations that offer the “best performance at the most economical price point available for a Lustre deployment.” The system distributes files across a cluster of servers and storage using the pre-defined modules.

The systems offer InfiniBand or 10GbE connectivity, SASstorage connections, SATAdrives, and an integrated software stack that includes Linux, Lustre, OFED and LMT.

“The thing about Sun’s Open Storage initiative is that it
makes it very easy for Sun to do something like this,” said Illuminata analyst John Webster. “The functionality of the Lustre file system defines to a great extent the functionality of this storage device. The underlying hardware is more or less a standard Sun server platform, and the file system is open source. Sun can
generate significant scale economy for users doing it this way.”

A starting configuration lists for $134,000 and offers 96TB of capacity, 2GB/sec of sustained throughput and is configured for use in an InfiniBand cluster.

The Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems, which are based on Sun’s ZFS file system, can get users into NFS or NAS storage for as little as $11,000 for the 7110, $35,000 for the 7210 or $57,000 for the 7410.

Sun’s Open Storage efforts have been a bright spot for the company, growing 21 percent in the fourth quarter. Sun’s first-quarter results will be released in two weeks.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau said it’s possible that Sun’s business model of open source software and hardware sales could work.

“In storage, it is possible that they can earn money, presuming that the software is functional and of high enough quality to meet customer requirements,” he said.

“In customers that we have spoken with, most buy Sun storage for the price, not the functionality,” said Babineau. “In some cases, this decision is warranted, as people just want basic storage. In other situations, when the customer needs to improve operations via the storage, they would rather pay a premium and get incremental, usable functionality.”

Sun can point to at least one customer who has been happy using a combination of OpenSolaris and ZFS.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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