Sun Says Open Source Storage Is Catching On

Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) says its open source storage initiative is catching on, with registered members growing and more than 40 projects under way.

OpenSolaris Storage community members have grown by more than 20 percent in six months, Sun said, and projects range from a peer-to-peer distributed storage system to management initiatives and drivers for storage connectivity.

Analysts have wondered whether Sun can earn money pursuing an open storage software strategy, but Graham Lovell, Sun’s senior director of Open Storage and Networking, said the plan is catching on with users like Web 2.0 companies combining open source software and commodity hardware.

One such user is OurStage.com, an online music site for unsigned artists. Mark Niedzielski, OurStage’s infrastructure manager, said switching to Sun’s OpenSolaris and ZFS solved the performance problems the company ran into in its Linux environment with NFS and disk I/O.

The company ran a test system using OpenSolaris and ZFS and “got the numbers we were looking for,” said Niedzielski. Performance, recovery, ease of use and management all improved over the company’s Linux environment.

“An open source solution is a bit more work” than a proprietary solution, said Niedzielski, but Sun, like Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) did with Linux, is “building in a little more support.”

Niedzielski likes the “agility” he gets from Sun’s approach and the DTrace troubleshooting tool. He’s even considering becoming a Sun hardware customer for future database needs — exactly the kind of evolving relationships Sun is hoping for. “They got us in the door,” said Niedzielski.

“It’s an interesting strategy, and I give them credit for trying,” he said.

Sun also highlighted a few of the more interesting projects underway at OpenSolaris Storage.

Project Celeste is working on a peer-to-peer and fault-tolerant distributed storage system. Celeste stores data as files and replicates them on many different nodes to boost availability. It began as a Sun Labs research project.

Project FUSE is based on FUSE, or File system in User Space, and the project’s goal is to provide a simple interface to implement a fully functional file system in user space. The project will enable greater flexibility for code development, interoperability across multiple operating systems and kernel recompilation.

Project Common Array Manager is disk storage device management software written in Java that “ties together Sun’s midrange family of disk storage systems in an administrator-friendly way.”

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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 Time.com, 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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