Report: Sun Open Storage

Onno Benschop onno at
Tue Nov 18 21:27:55 UTC 2008

On 19/11/08 03:59, Mark Schouten wrote:
>> So, coming in the door thinking, wow, Sun has an Open Storage system
>> that might be able to be managed and deployed in a Ubuntu Server
>> environment, I went out the door thinking, Sun has built a system that
>> could be really nice, but instead they've built another proprietary
>> solution that doesn't really talk to anything else and cannot really be
>> managed in anything but a single deployment.
> It's not really proprietary. It's OpenSolaris. Download and deploy it,
> be my guest. It's hell. :) They've created an appliance for which
> they've used Open Source software, and added some proprietary stuff to
> make life more easier. 
> Compare it to Ubuntu (Open source) and Landscape (closed source). Ubuntu
> rules, landscape would be nice to have, but is closed source. (Even
> worse, you cannot get the serverpart so you would depend op Canonical
> for it).
> I think you looked at this box the wrong way, rethink and compare it to
> Netapp's and EMC's..
Your concluding sentence is where I ended up, but I came into the room
with no pre-conceived ideas on the matter. Sun told me that 15% of CPU
in a data centre was running idle and told me that all other storage
vendors were charging gobs of money to enable features and that Sun
would save me 90% on my storage while giving me better hardware
utilisation and a better power foot-print because it used commodity
hardware and open source software - when features were enabled, they
would just be added at no extra cost.

They then went on to deliver a proprietary solution that they, and now
you, tell me I should compare with a Netapp or EMC solution.

I'm not saying that their solution is crap, I'm saying that they're
telling me one thing and offering me another. They're telling me the
machine is a real server, "it's running Open Solaris was the mantra",
but when I actually want to use it as a server (which personally I think
would be an excellent idea - and I'm interested to hear comment on
this), I void my support contract which makes no sense to me at all.

Ironically, the VMware issue came up and I suggested to the Sun engineer
in front of me at the time that if they actually had real VMware
certification, why didn't they offer to run appliances on the machine,
and amend the support contract to include something like this: "If your
problem is caused by your running VMware appliance, Sun support will be
unable to assist you, however, if when the appliance is stopped and the
issue persists, you'll receive full Sun support." - but I suspect that
it will be some time before we see something like that :-)

Which reminds me, there was no discussion about what happens to their
system during upgrade. There is a roll-back for upgrades, but there was
no discussion about what happens during the upgrade and no reference to
interoperability between clustered solutions either (other than to say
that interoperability was extremely closely tied to firmware versions
and OS versions), so there is no information on if two or more clustered
devices can run together with different versions, so you can reboot one
after an upgrade without turning off the cluster - I suspect "that's in
a future release".

A final Ubuntu-server thought, the roll-back idea seemed like a really
cool thing that we could implement with a snap-shot. That is, do a
system-snap-shot before any upgrades leaving the ability to roll-back a
system if the upgrade had issues - of course little things like incoming
mail and database queries might be a problem, but if we deal with that
by separating the OS from the data (hmm, where did I hear that before
:), then we might have ourselves a feature that I know I'd use. Nothing
like doing an upgrade at midnight, having it fail and spending the next
8 hours fixing it :)

Onno Benschop

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