Report: Sun Open Storage

Onno Benschop onno at
Wed Nov 19 04:28:20 UTC 2008

On 19/11/08 08:13, David Miller wrote:
> 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
> directly.
This confuses me because as I outlined in my original message, I had no
pre-conceived ideas about what they were offering - in fact, this was
the first storage presentation I ever went to.

I was told by Sun during the presentation that there was 15% CPU
utilisation in data centres and that vendor lock-in was a result of
closed source solutions. When in addition to that I was told that the
storage server was running Open Solaris, used commodity hardware, relied
on the Open Source developer community and that there were a whole bunch
of pre-installed services, such as DNS, HTTP, FTP and that it was
certified with MySQL and Oracle, I made the leap to "this is a server
that runs stuff". I'll admit that I made that leap without any actual
direct prompting from Sun. Though you'd have to admit that all the bits
do add up to that.

I'm not disputing that Sun is selling an appliance, it's Sun who told me
that it was using Open Solaris and that this made it open. When I dug
deeper into that statement by asking about interoperability,
expandability, access and support, it turned out that the "open"
solution that Sun was selling wasn't really open at all.

Finally, from my perspective, this is a political issue, the hardware
seems clearly capable of running things beyond ZFS and a logging daemon.
I was told as much by the presentation. The reason I cannot is because
it would void my support contract - something which I can understand -
we do that too with unsupported packages. What I'm commenting on is that
I was told to think of it as a server, and when I did, I was told that
it was not a server but an appliance, and a not very compelling one at
that - not from a pricing, or perhaps a performance perspective, but
from an interoperability and integration perspective. I thought $22k
would buy at least a little of that.

Onno Benschop

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