Sun storage system delivers high performance
ISCSI-based 7410 unified storage system has some usability and integration issuesFollow @infoworld
Management is somewhat complex, with two separate consoles used to run the system: the admin console is accessible through the Web interface on the primary iSCSI port; and an ILOM console accessible through either SSH or a serial terminal. The ILOM console is theoretically also available through the Web interface, but using it is not officially supported by Sun and frequently crashed both Internet Explorer and Firefox in our tests.
The ILOM interface is used to make changes to the BIOS, run the initial network configuration, and to perform some manual diagnostic tasks that aren't available through the administrative console. The admin console is a browser-based Java application that enables you to set up volumes, snapshots, replication and all the normal storage-area network (SAN) functions.
The business analytics section of the GUI-based admin interface contains very useful monitoring tools, with the ability to drill down to specific interfaces, network or storage protocols, as long as you're willing to dedicate one of the iSCSI ports to the admin console. Reports are available in a very wide variety of formats, with many variations. For example, you can get network I/O as a raw number, by port, by type of protocol or by source. There are similar reports for disk IO, overall storage utilization, and more. Historical data is available as well, and the amount of storage used for logging can be adjusted to keep data for longer or shorter periods of time.
One management oversight is the lack of an automatic update process. Updating the Sun Storage 7410 controller software, required downloading a 487MB file and manually uploading it to each controller, then rebooting (which takes over 3 minutes). After updating, all security certificates were invalid, which requires several steps on either IE or Firefox every time the console was accessed from a new system.
Sun offers a standard, although not exceptional, set of storage features with the Sun Storage 7410, including remote and local replication over synchronous or asynchronous connections, snapshots and mirroring of volumes. While Sun claims support for industry standards, this statement is mostly grounded in the fact the system uses industry standard parts. However, the Sun Storage 7410 cannot be expanded with parts bought from anyone but Sun without losing the warranty and the Storage Management Initiative -- Specification (SMI-S) developed by the Storage Networking Industry Association to promote interoperability between SAN products is not supported. They also claim that future software features will be available at no additional cost, though this is only true as long as you pay the yearly maintenance fees.
The price for one controller and the storage allotment we tested is US$137,790, comparatively expensive for 20TB raw capacity, compared with other iSCSI or even FC systems. The price for a redundant controllers system with the same amount of storage is $192,465.
The Sun Storage 7410 system is clearly positioned -- in terms of price, feature set and performance capacity -- to go toe-to-toe with big systems from NetApp and EMC that are designed to support dozens of connected servers simultaneously. While we could not push the box to its capacity, we were impressed by what it could handle in our test environment. That said, Sun could improve the overall usability of the product with some upgraded management tools and wider configuration support in its clustered implementation.
Harbaugh is a freelance reviewer and IT consultant in Redding, Calif. He has been working in IT for almost 20 years, and has written two books on networking, as well as articles for most of the major computer publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.