Sun to return to NAS market with StorEdge 5210

Midrange NAS appliance includes data snapshotting capability, easy-to-use management interface

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Tuesday will announce a number of new storage products, including a new server that signals the company's return to NAS (network-attached storage). Called the StorEdge 5210, the file server is a midrange NAS appliance developed with technology that Sun licensed from Irvine, California-based Procom Technology Inc. in April.

The 5210 will use a 3.06GHz Xeon processor and a stripped-down operating system licensed from Procom. It will come with 4GB of memory and six Ultra 160 SCSI (small computer system interface) hard drives, each with 146GB of storage, according to documents on Sun's Web site.

The system will also include a data snapshotting capability, an easy-to-use management interface and an installation wizard that will allow users to configure the box within 15 minutes, according to Sun.

Sun's previous attempts at NAS devices were the Sun StorEdge N8400 and N8600 servers, which the company took off the market just one year after their 2001 launch.

The products were unsuccessful because they did not perform as well and were not as easy to use as NAS devices from Network Appliance Inc. and EMC Corp, analysts said.

Sun struggled with earlier attempts at NAS products because the company was more focused on selling Sun Fire servers for file serving instead of taking the "appliance" approached pioneered by Network Appliance, said Arun Taneja founder of analyst firm The Taneja Group. "They never really could convince the people that created Solaris that they should ... create a stripped-down version of Solaris for the NAS box," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Sun will announce availability of its first storage array based on technology it acquired through its 2002 purchase of Pirus Networks. The StorEdge 6920 will come in four configurations, ranging in capacity from 4TB to 16TB of storage, and it will be the first of a number of products in Sun's new Integrated Data Services Platform, which will use the storage virtualization capabilities developed for Pirus's switches.

Customers will be able to use the Pirus technology to represent different Sun storage devices as a single, virtualized storage array, a capability that is normally handled by server software and generally unavailable in storage arrays today, Taneja said. He expects Sun to eventually extend this capability to non-Sun arrays. "At some point in time, with the Pirus acquisition, they should also be able to do heterogeneous virtualization," he said.

Sun also plans to unveil an integrated archival storage system, similar to EMC's Centera, called the Sun Content Infrastructure System, the company said.

Pricing for the StorEdge 6920 and 5210 starts at $258,700 and $28,995, respectively. The company did not reveal pricing for the Content Infrastructure System.

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