Report: Sun Open Storage

David Miller david3d at
Tue Nov 18 23:13:02 UTC 2008

I still think you're missing the point.  The problem was not what Sun said
or is trying to sell you but with your pre-conception of what they were
selling you.  While it is technically a "server" it is really a storage
appliance that just happens to be based on Open Solaris and ZFS.  So the
technology which it is based on is open source although I'm not sure it
really matters here since if the storage vendor goes under there are still
proprietary pieces to this and support would also go away.  So I'm not sure
how this reduces the risk involved with "Vendor Lockin" since you're still
locked to Sun to some degree.  But just like any other enterprise class SAN
or NAS solution the only job that this appliance has is to store, manage,
and serve block and file level access to the storage it hosts.  If you want
an application to use the storage then like with any other storage system
you will need a server that utilizes the storage on that server.  iSCSI
would probably make the most sense here for servers where file access is
better if you want to use the storage unit as a file server to clients

I wasn't there so I don't know what context Sun was meaning when they stated
that the typical cpu utilization in a datacenter was only 15%.  To me that
is a different problem which virtualization attempts to solve by giving you
better utilization and flexibility in your computing resources.  The
benifits here with the Sun Storage offerings are the same as any other
enterprise storage solution.  Similar to virtualization they let you
consolidate your storage and get better utilization of your storage capacity
as well as give you central monitoring and management.  Any SAN type
solution is capable of doing that but the price point and features are
ultimately what matters.  I think what Sun is offering here is a good value
if it has the features you require.

On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 4:27 PM, Onno Benschop <onno at> wrote:

> 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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