Sun's top brains salivate over storage kit and code
Fishworks eyed as cure to disk stank
SC07 Sun's hardware chief John "I don't comment on unannounced products" Fowler has storage on the brain.
The longtime Sun exec recently took over the company's storage business, adding tape and disk to his responsibilities as server chief. Fowler, during an interview here at Supercomputing, confessed to having an unfulfilled passion for storage gear - one that he can now satisfy in tandem with Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, who we're told is also consumed by the byte saving bug.
It will take more than enthusiasm to turn Sun into a compelling storage vendor. A number of executives have tried and failed to raise the status of Sun's storage gear over the past few years. It seems that customers simply prefer to look elsewhere when buying disk to connect to Sun's SPARC and x86 servers. Much of the lack of enthusiasm for Sun's storage kit has stemmed from its reliance on partners rather than in-house hardware and software for a large swath of its lineup.
Now, however, Sun has started releasing a number of homegrown products that it sees as game changers.
The most recent in-house arrival is the StorageTek 5800 box, which barrels into the Content Addressable Storage (CAS) market.
"This box is about really long-term preservation of information," Fowler said. "Regardless of disk failures, we can maintain data integrity for a very long period."
Sun has spent years talking about this system under the "Honeycomb" code-name. The system took so long to design and ship due to a drawn out prototyping process and extensive testing, according to Fowler.
Now Sun has a unit which relies on metadata and a slick query engine to store and sort fixed files such as medical images or chunky media content. Over the coming months, Sun will open source the software behind the CAS box.
"Some people will want different IOPS (input/output operations per second) to disk ratios," Fowler said. "As an open source project, people will be able to adapt the software to different kinds of hardware to meet these varying needs."
The Honeycomb box joins the X4500 as two of Sun's bespoke points of pride in the storage game.
Both systems fit into Sun's new high performance computing package - Constellation - which includes the Bechtolsheim-designed DataCenter Switch 3456 and the new Sun Blade 6048 chassis. (The Sun Blade 6048 lets customers put up to 48 SPARC, Xeon or Opteron blades in a full rack.)
The Big (3456) Freakin Web Tone Switch
Thankfully, Sun realizes that not everyone is looking for a 3,456 port InfiniBand switch. So, it has prepped a 72-port InfiniBand switch that will sit on top of the Sun Blade 6048 rack.
"This will let us do small to very large clusters with similar storage, compute and fabric components," Fowler said.
Sun demoed the new 72-port switch at Supercomputing and plans to start selling it in the coming months.
Next page: FFS - Flogging File Systems
Sun storage, long on talk, no delivery as usual
Ashlee (as usual) hit the nail on the head.
"Sun has spent years talking about this system under the 'Honeycomb' code-name. The system took so long to design and ship due to a drawn out prototyping process and extensive testing, according to Fowler."...
Yeah, right. Best I can remember Sun started talking about Honeycomb in 2003, and here it is almost 2008 and they're just now shipping. Everyone else is on revision 2.0 for content storage, and in the case of EMC, rev 3.0. Let's see, now there's ZFS that's somehow going to fix everything. Problem is ZFS was designed for a few JBOD, not real storage. In fact, without delicate tuning, ZFS wants to turn your HDS USP-V into a bunch of dumb disks.
And now, they've been talking about Fishworks for a year, and still nothing. When it finally gets released my guess is Fishworks will be nothing but a collection of open sourced standalone tools like SCSI target mode, iSCSI target, CIFS kernel implementation and a lightweight GUI or 3... Wow, now that's a Celerra and NetApp killer if I've ever seen one!
Sun just doesn't get the storage market, never has, and probably never will. They only did one thing right in storage ever, and that was supporting FC back in 1996. It's been all down hill ever since.
If only ...
Sun had started to sort out the tape business in their acquired storage division, they could have maybe been taken more seriously by customers, for all of the new products (VTL, etc ...).
Today, they have 3 libs:
- SL500: atrocious sh**e
- L700/1400: obsolete, as per STK themselves. They removed all L models, 3 years back, except for this one to fill the gap.
- SL8500: gigantic, can't fit anywhere else than Los Alamos labs. 2.35m height, 4 m long, nearly 3 m large and oh, yes, 1 m needs be empty all around. Entry ticket at 1500 tapes ! What a footprint ! On top of that, that massive thing still runs under the ill-designed ACSLS, which is the SPOF of the architecture (except if clustered).
Sun Java System Application Server Administration Counsel
"The features of ZFS include high storage capacity, integration of the concepts of filesystem and volume management, a novel on-disk structure, ...." ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS
The $7777777 question is then always going to be what novel are Sun Virtualising for Media and IT to Digitise and Present to Us as the Future 42 Follow.