Sun Gives Midrange Storage Array More Enterprise Punch

Introduced last year, the 6920 offers many of the reliability, availability and scalability features of enterprise-class arrays but in a midrange array that competes with EMC's CX700 and Hitachi Data Systems' 9585 arrays, said Doug Wood, senior director of enterprise storage systems at Sun.

"Storage tiering is breaking down. Customers in the midrange are expecting enterprise features at modular system prices," Wood said.

To that end, Sun is addiing three new features and making two enhancements to revision 3.0 of its storage operating system.

The first new feature, Sun StorEdge Data Replicator, allows synchronous and asynchronous replication and remote snap initiation between data centers, Wood said. The replications can be done natively over Fibre Channel or Gigabit Ethernet networks. Also new is Sun StorEdge Data Mirror, which allows up to three mirrored copies of a given data volume to be created. The mirrors can be split off for use with other applications or for testing, and then rejoined to the original data as needed.

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In addition, Sun is unveiling back-end heterogeneity with the 6920. That function lets customers' existing storage arrays be connected to the 6920 and virtualized into a single pool of storage. As a result, users will be able to tier multiple storage arrays according to the value of the data and perform mirroring and replication between them as needed, Wood said.

Initially, all arrays in Sun's 3000, 6000 and 9000 families--along with EMC's CX400 and CX700 and Hewlett-Packard's EVA arrays--can be connected behind the 6920, Wood said, adding that the list will grow with future revisions of the operating system. "This lets customers preserve their legacy storage investments," he said.

Sun also is enhancing the 6920's data snapshot feature by adding the ability to restore a data volume to a specific point in time. The company, too, is adding profiles for high-performance computing and the QFS shared file system to the Sun StorEdge Pool Manager, which allows capacity to be virtualized to specific application profiles without manual configuration.

On the hardware side, customers soon will be able to add Gigabit Ethernet ports to the 6920. The array currently can be configured for up to four controllers, each with eight Fibre Channel ports. With the enhancements, customers can choose controllers with six Fibre Channel and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Wood said.

The new functions are expected to be implemented in early June. Pricing for the 6920 starts at about $125,000 and runs up to $1 million, depending on capacity and choice of software bundles, Wood said. "This is substantially below the per-Gbyte price of enterprise-class products," he said.