Sun Opens Up on NAS

Vendor to release source code for a number of its NAS technologies to bolster development

April 10, 2007

4 Min Read
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As part of its OpenSolaris initiative, Sun said today it's opening up the source code for a number of its NAS technologies. (See Sun Thumps Storage-Server Hybrid, Sun Signals Say 'Storage', and Sun Optimizes Solaris 10.) These include the ZFS file system, Double Parity RAIDZ data protection code, and the parallel NFS, which lets users separate data and metadata.

Sun is also opening up Solaris code related to iSCSI device drivers, QLogic Fibre Channel HBA drivers, and Java implementations of the RPC and NFS protocols. (See Survey: SAN Extension on the Rise, 10-Gig iSCSI SANs Set for Takeoff, RPC Vendor Files Suit, Qlogic Boasts Performance, and HP Ships QLogic Products.)

The idea here is to link other vendors' technologies with Sun's own offerings, giving its own sales a boost in the process. "We're creating a community that will enable developers and ISVs to take [and integrate] hardware from any vendor," says Amy O'Connor, Sun's senior director of storage marketing. Likely candidates are HP, IBM, and Dell, she adds.

The vendor is currently jostling for position in the NAS marketplace with vendors such as NetApp and Microsoft, which offers an iSCSI target within its Unified Data Storage Server. (See NetApp Ships Data Ontap GX, and NetApp's GX Targets HPC.)

Sun has spent the last year trying to make sense of its storage business after spending $4.1 billion to acquire StorageTek. (See Sun to Acquire StorageTek for $4.1B, Sun Returns to Profitability, and Sun Reveals Roadmap.) Even as it works to get its product mix right, the vendor last month shuffled the management of its storage division. (See Sun Reshuffles Storage... Again, Sun Takes Action Amidst Concerns, Sun's Canepa Goes Extreme, and Sun Names Storage Boss.)In Sun's most recent quarterly report, storage was something of a blot on the vendor's financials. Storage revenues were down 7 percent year-over-year to $626 million, thanks largely to integration issues connected to the StorageTek acquisition. (See Storage Slows Down Sun and Sun Storage Chief: We're Not for Sale.)

Sun's open-source move suggests that a turbulent spell in the company's history is drawing to a close, according to Forrester Research analyst Stephanie Balaouras. "They have had to do some rationalizing, but now they are at the point where they can focus on advanced storage software," she says. "Sun has a lot of IP that they have never opened up to other people."

Open source has increasingly become a Sun mantra over recent years, most notably when the vendor opened up the source code on its Solaris 10 operating system two years ago. (See Sun Opens Solaris, Sun Grants Access to Patents, and Sun Hits the Source.) Since then, the vendor has undertaken similar efforts around Java technology and Sparc hardware. (See Sun Open Sources Key Java Techs, Sun Opens Source on SSO, and Sun Creates OpenSPARC.)

Despite a flurry of marketing spiel, Forrester's Balaouras warns users not to hold their breath for cross-vendor products built from Sun's open-source effort. "It will probably be a year out," says the analyst, adding that less ambitious offerings could be on the market sooner. "When it comes to basic drivers from HBA vendors, those things could be immediate."

Sun execs would not reveal how many hardware vendors and ISVs have signed up for the open-source effort, although the broader OpenSolaris initiative already has some 40,000 members. "As we move forward, we will be making more announcements about the people that are using this and the partners," says Sun spokesman Alex Plant.Rival vendor IBM has already made some moves in the open source space, although these have been more focused on areas such as grid computing and virtualization. HP has also embraced open source around JBoss middleware. (See Grid Goes Open Source, IBM Unveils Linux Roadmap, IBM Contributes to Open Source , IBM Unveils Offerings, and HP Boosts Open Source Alliance.)

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Forrester Research Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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