With many organizations scrambling to meet exploding demand for storage capacity without constantly expanding their IT staffs, Sun Microsystems continues to push open source software as a solution, along with a new series of storage arrays and a hybrid server-storage platform.
The company says it is trying to tackle twin problems plaguing some storage-intensive enterprises, such as online video providers, high-performance computing shops, and companies with large server farms. The need for storage capacity is exploding, while the initial price of that storage and the cost of staff to manage it remain high, said Ray Austin, group manager for storage product marketing at Sun.
On Wednesday, Sun introduced a line of storage arrays called the Sun Storage J4000 series, designed for customers ranging from small businesses to large enterprises with the biggest and fastest-growing storage needs anywhere. The arrays, available now, can cost just $1 per gigabyte for bulk storage, with significant savings resulting from free software, according to Sun. The systems' high density is designed to save precious rack space.
The lineup starts at $3,000 and includes systems with maximum capacities ranging from 46TB to 480TB. The basic models are as follows:
-- J4200, with as many as 12 drives per tray, for up to 48 SAS (Serial Attached Small Computer Storage Interface) or SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drives
-- J4400: four drives per tray and as many as six SATA ports, with a maximum 192 SAS/SATA drives
-- J4500: four racks, with 48 drives per tray and as many as four SAS ports, for a total of 480 SATA drives
The company also introduced the StorageTek SAS RAID HBA (Host Bus Adapter), which lets users attach the J4000 arrays directly to servers running Solaris, Linux, or Windows, in OpenStorage and OpenSolaris environments.
Sun is also updating its Sun Fire X4500 hybrid server-storage platform, nicknamed "Thumper," with the X4540, which has twice the computing performance for the same price, according to the company. The system includes both server and storage capacity in a single device that takes up just four standard rack units and can hold 48 drives, Sun said. Like the X4500, introduced last year, it is designed for sites where space is at a premium. The X4540 will be available this month, with the X4500 family starting at $22,000.
Sun has built its Open Storage initiative around free storage software it offers for download, as well as the company's overall emphasis on free software. Used in combination with Sun's OpenSolaris server operating system and Solaris ZFS (Zettabyte File System), the J4000 series offers a cost reduction of as much as 10 times over traditional storage arrays, the company said.
Typical storage systems require separate management software for the servers, storage and SAN (storage area network), along with multiple IT administrators to look over each, according to Sun. The company's combination of software platforms unifies management and reduces the need for ongoing administration, Austin said.
It's hard to know what kinds of servers or storage COAS will need in the coming years, Sears said.
"As we become more rich in our sensors and our numerical modeling, it's not as easy to get our storage scheme right up front," he said.