Sun's storage technology, especially ZFS, works well with COAS' Solaris servers and makes those unexpected changes easier to carry out, according to Sears. The college is an early user of the J4000 series and sees it as a good tool to keep up with data needs into the future.
Rather than turning to "baling wire and duct tape" to upgrade storage or servers in the future, "what this makes is a very nice, clean storage solution," Sears said. Because the storage system works so well with Solaris, which powers about 75 percent of the college's servers, COAS is looking to move the rest over, too. Storage is the college's biggest IT challenge, and it's driving server OS choice, he said.
However, many IT organizations that are adding to existing infrastructure will be faced with a complex management problem, according to Illuminata analyst John Webster.
No matter what system is in place, things can go wrong, so availability is another key pain point for storage administrators, Webster said. IT managers are hungry for storage management software that can monitor performance, send alerts, find bottlenecks, and even automatically solve problems, he said. Lacking that, the only way to deal with growing demand and complexity is hiring more people, which enterprises don't want to do. It's not clear how well Sun's offerings can deliver that kind of intelligence, he said.
Sun's free, open source software approach, turning its platforms loose for third parties to address particular issues, is good news to many of the kinds of organizations that are already drawn to Sun, analysts said. Those include high-performance computing shops, Web 2.0 companies, and universities. But for other customers, it doesn't help, said Terri McClure of Enterprise Strategy Group.
"For the (general enterprise) market, they don't want to internally engineer a solution, they want a bundle," McClure said. "It's not free if you have to design, code, and develop the solution on your own. You pay in labor costs."