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11-year-old Sun mascot beats up NetApp

Ten minutes to open storage bliss

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Having been worked over by the rise of Linux servers, Sun Microsystems wants to capitalize on what it sees as the next major "open systems" movement. The company believes that storage systems - or more specifically storage software - will transition to favor lower-cost, less proprietary plays.

Sun this week took what feels like a rather minor step in the open storage direction with the release of two "how-to-guides" meant to help with the creation of a storage server and a NAS (network attached storage) appliance.

The first recipe, as Sun calls it, covers the storage tools found in the Open Solaris operating system. Sun provides basic information on the ZFS, NFS and CIFS filesystems. It then goes on to walk administrators through commands needed to create, say, an NFS shared filesystem and how to add disks into a ZFS pool. All told, you're said to be able to set up a storage server in "10 minutes or less" by following the guide.

Sun is also pointing to the - grrr - ICE DAWN blog where you can watch a father and son build a NAS box. We're sure that 11-year-old Chase has a long, fruitful storage admin career ahead of him, although it looks like he'll need to put on about 180 pounds. (And to think all my dad taught me over Winter Break was how to down Schlitz. Guess that explains a lot.)

Like any decent hardware vendor, Sun also has some services to help those open storage system wannabes who can't follow video instructions on their own.

We're not quite sure that a how-to-manual and a blog post merit their own press release, but even the Participation Age can use a traditional kick in the ass from time-to-time.

You can understand Sun's open storage gusto. The company has struggled for years in the storage game, trailing its major rivals by a wide margin. So, now it's hoping that a major transition in the storage market combined with a fresh attack will help solve these past issues. (And don't forget tape storage's green attributes!)

Sun may well be onto something. The NAS market could surely use a price shake-up since the dominant vendors are selling very expensive software on very basic hardware. The Unix server vendors got away with this for years before Linux grew up. And now Sun thinks the time for storage software to follow a similar path has arrived.

Key to Sun's campaign here is the FiSHWoRkS code that some of the company's top software engineers have been working on for awhile. Customers are meant to take the FIShWorKS software and create a NAS appliance with the click of a button. As we understood it, however, the software was supposed to arrive a couple of months back. But, as so often happens at Sun, the software is now taking its sweet time to reach the public. So, we're left with manuals and videos.

Patience, friends. ®

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