Sun Intros Solid State Drives, Analytics In Storage Line


Sun on Monday unveiled a new storage architecture which combines its server and software technology with off-the-shelf components in a high-performance, low-power consumption offering.

The new Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems are part of Sun's Open Storage plaltform under which it aims to help customers build high-performance storage products using commodity components.

Sun's Open Storage initiative, introduced in July, calls for the increased use of industry-standard components to enable customers to be able to quickly expand storage capacity at a low cost.

The Storage 7000 family, also known as Amber Road in the channel and as Project FishWorks internally, is aimed at simplifying and increasing the performance of storage, said Graham Lovell, Sun's senior director of Open Storage.

The 7000 family pools all hard drives and solid state drives in a new type of RAID configuration which allows quick addition of new drives and fast RAID rebuilds, Lovell said.

Data reads and writes are done via solid-state drives for high-performance bandwidth, with the actual data then moved to and from the lower-cost SATA drives, Lovell said. The solid-state drives can also be used for primary storage for applications which require the additional performance.

Also included is Sun's DTrace Analytics, an application adopted from its Solaris operating system which allows customers to monitor their storage for such things as which storage units are doing the most work, what format is being used, which applications are using the storage and which users are using it.

DTrace is the top reason for buying the Amber Road appliances, said Jarod Jenson, chief technical architect for the Sun Solutions group at Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider.

"Amber Road has DTrace Analytics as a core component," Jenson said. "Customers look at their networked storage and can see thousands of people accessing it. DTrace shows who accesses it. Servers have long been ahead of storage in terms of technology. Now, with Amber Road, customers will see services from the server business moving into the storage business."

Jenson said the Amber Road family also offers customers an easy-to-use storage technology. For instance, he said, his CEO met with the developers of the Amber Road at Sun and was asked to set one up with no training. "He's smart, but he's no big techie," Jenson said. "We gave him nothing more than the login and the IP address, and, shortly, it was a networked storage device serving NFS and CIFS."

Sun is taking the lead in terms of two technologies with its Amber Road, Jenson said.

First, it is adding flash memory as cache, not in the traditional 2-, 4- or 8-GB level, but in hundreds of gigabytes or even in the terabyte range, Jenson said. And with solid-state drives, it is getting performance orders of magnitude higher than spinning disk, he said.

Another Sun solution provider, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that Sun has done a wonderful job with its Amber Road family.

However, the solution provider said, Sun's biggest problem is how to get the word out to the market and generate interest in the product.

"Sun's doing a [lousy] roll-out," the solution provider said. "This is supposed to save Sun, but they didn't spend any time on teaching partners about it."

Jenson said that, regardless of how other solution providers feel about how Sun markets its new technology, it doesn't diminish the fact that the technology has the potential to be very disruptive.

"There's already a lot of buzz about this," he said. "People will be very interested in what this technology will do. This is not an incremental step. The technology is going to be compelling."

Amber Road will initially be available in one of three models.

The Sun Storage 7110 comes configured with 16 146-GB SAS hard drives, totaling about 2 TB, and 8 GB of memory. It includes DTrace Analytics, but no solid-state drive, Lovell said. It is already available with a list price of $10,995.

The Sun Storage 7210 can be configured with one or two 18-GB solid state drives, up to 46 1-TB SATA hard drives, and either 32 GB or 64 GB of memory. Pricing, when it ships in the next week or two, will be $34,995 for an 11.5-TB configuration.

The Sun Storage 7410 can be configured with up to 16 18-GB, write-optimized solid-state drives, up to six 100-GB read-optimized solid-state drives, up to 288 1-TB SATA hard drives and up to 128 GB of memory. A clustered version with two units, each with 12 TB of capacity, will have a list price of $89,490 when it ships later this month.