Sun Focuses On Storage In Quarterly Update

Sun's storage product blitz will run the gamut from entry-level to high-end products. The midrange server update will focus on select models of its four-way and eight-way Sun Fire servers, each boasting chips with multithreading technology for the first time.

The new storage offerings are important because they are part of an initiative by Sun to cut the cost and complexity of IT environments, said Adam Mendoza, director of strategic alliances for Sun network storage. "We've been providing storage solutions to customers for years," Mendoza said. "Never before have we had such a variety of products."

Part of that variety is technology that allows solution providers to simultaneously install both SATA and Fibre Channel hard drives in Sun's StorEdge 3000 family, which it OEMs from Dot Hill.

Putting SATA and Fibre Channel drives in a single array is a great way to handle information that doesn't require immediate access, as well as time-critical data, said Geoff Hanson, technical director at Pomeroy IT Solutions, a Hebron, Ky.-based Sun solution provider.

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"Say a customer has a 200-Gbyte or so database, but is interested in having several copies for development, testing, and keeping different revision levels," Hanson said. "It makes sense to keep Fibre Channel and SATA on the same array."

Sun also plans to introduce a new entry-level model, the 3510, that can be "racked and stacked" to scale the number of ports and size of cache to increase performance, Mendoza said. The 3510 is aimed at the space now occupied by EMC's CX 300, but offers double the number of Fibre Channel ports, two-thirds as many hard drives, and Milspec certification, he said.

In the midrange, Sun's new StorEdge 6920 array features embedded virtualization capabilities for pooling storage, both internally connected hard drives and externally connected arrays, Mendoza said.

The 6920 is the first Sun array to feature virtualization capabilities based on technology acquired with its purchase of Pirus Technologies in September 2002.

In particular, the 6920 can be used to create polls of storage for up to 14 specific application profiles, with I/O and caching tuned specifically to those applications, Mendoza said.

Other data services possible with the 6920 include data snapshots and the ability to work with external storage provisioning products through the industry-standard Storage Management Initiative Standard (SMI-S). Sometime late this year, the 6920 also will allow synchronous and asynchronous long-distance data replication as well as refined snapshot management capabilities, he said.

The 6920 starts at 4 Tbytes of capacity, and scales to up to 65 Tbytes total of internal and external capacity and up to 28 2-gbit Fibre Channel ports, Mendoza said.

For utility computing, the 6920's capacity is available at just over 90 cents per Gbyte per year. "So instead of a capital expenditure, it becomes an expense for customers," Mendoza said.

By fall Sun plans to release a new version of its Enterprise Storage Manager software with two new capabilities, Mendoza added. It will be able to monitor the status of switches and hosts from multiple vendors in a SAN environment through a single server, and report on the utilization of all storage resources at any one time.

On the server side, Sun introduced the 4-way Sun Fire V490 and 8-way V890, the first servers from Sun to bring chip multithreading technology and dual-thread processors to market for less than $50,000, said Chris Kruell, director of outbound marketing for the company's Scalable Systems Group.

The V490, a replacement for Sun's V480, can scale to up to four UltraSPARC IV processors. The base model, with two 1.05-GHz processors, 8 Gbytes of memory, and two 73-Gbyte hard drives, starts at $31,000. The V890, slated to replace the V880, scales to eight processors, and starts at $40,000 for two 1.2-GHz processors, 8 Gbytes of memory, and six 73-Gbyte hard drives.

Because the new UltraSPARC IV processors now offer dual-threading, it doubles the performance of the servers while keeping the same footprint, Kruell said.

"Resellers can take the new systems, and nearly double the size of the workload for customers," he said. "Depending on the application, a V490 can often take the place of the [older] V880."