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Sun Unveils 'Open Storage' Appliances

Sun Microsystems on Monday launched a line of "open storage" appliances that the vendor said combine open source software with industry standard hardware to provide more flexibility at a cheaper price than products offered by competitors.

The Storage 7000 line, code-named Amber Road, initially comprises three products, the 7110, 7210, and 7410. The appliances are what Sun calls "unified storage systems" that present an integrated package of software and hardware in order to ease complexity in configuration, deployment, and maintenance.

A key component of the software stack in the new products is the Zettabyte file system, developed by Sun and released as an open source program. ZFS manages how data files are stored and named and is different from traditional file systems in that it's built on top of virtual storage pools. ZFS was originally designed for Sun's Solaris operating system.

The new products also include what Sun calls DTrace technology for monitoring storage use to spot potential problems and to diagnose and resolve issues. DTrace was developed by Sun's FISHworks engineers who developed the code for Sun's unified storage systems. FISH stands for "fully integrated software and hardware."

The 7110 is an "ultracompact" model with 2 TB of storage. The 7210 is a midrange system that features 48 TB of storage in a 4u system. The 7410 supports up to half a petabyte of capacity and is available in clustered configurations. The models have one, two, and four quad-core Opteron processors, respectively. Opteron is developed by Advanced Micro Devices. In addition, the systems are available with disk drives or solid-state drives.

Prices start at $10,000 for the 7110, $34,995 for the 7210, and $57,490 for a single-node 12-TB version of the 7410. A clustered 12-TB configuration of the latter starts at $89,490.

Sun's Storage 7000 would compete with products from larger vendors, such as EMC and Network Appliance. Sales of Sun's open storage line are a bright spot in the struggling hardware vendor's product portfolio. In the first fiscal quarter ended in September, Sun reported $25 million in open storage sales, which was nearly triple that of the same period the year before, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sun's total revenue for the quarter fell 7% to $2.99 billion.

Thin provisioning, data deduplication, and compression are fine technologies, but they're no substitute for real storage management, according to the InformationWeek report Managing Enterprise Storage. Download it here (registration required).