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Sun Unveils RAID-Less Storage Appliance 249

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the testing-the-cutting-edge-of-data-storage-sounds-less-than-fun dept.
pisadinho writes "eWEEK's Chris Preimesberger explains how Sun Microsystems has completely discarded RAID volume management in its new Amber Road storage boxes, released today. Because it uses the Zettabyte File System, the Amber Road has eliminated the use of RAID arrays, RAID controllers and volume management software — meaning that it's very fast and easy to use."
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Sun Unveils RAID-Less Storage Appliance

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  • Pricing:
    Sun Storage 7110: $10,995 for 2TB;
    Sun Storage 7210 starts at $34,995 for 11.5TB;
    Sun Storage 7410: Single node version starts at $57,490 for 12TB;
    cluster version (with two server nodes) starts at $89,490 for 12TB.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't charging enterprise prices for simplified hardware that relies on commodity software solutions, kind of defeat the point?

    Unless I'm misunderstanding this hardware, the entire idea is to move data safety away from hardware redundancy toward software-driven duplication. In that way, the data is safe from failure in the same way that GoogleFS protects against individual machine failures. The only difference is that Google probably doesn't pay $11,000 for 2TB of storage. :-/

    One of these days, I really will understand why Sun regularly shoots themselves in the foot. Until then, I suppose I must trust them to somehow find a customer who's willing to pay exorbitant prices for an otherwise good idea. (i.e. I'd really love to see Sun bring Google-style reliability from unreliability to the market.)

    BTW, here's the link to Sun's marketing on this:
    http://www.sun.com/storage/disk_systems/unified_storage/index.jsp [sun.com]

    It's actually pretty cool tech. Sun could own the market if they just understood how the market views pricing and features.

    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:28PM (#25712471)

      I suppose I must trust them to somehow find a customer who's willing to pay exorbitant prices for an otherwise good idea.

      Have you worked with any of Sun's customers recently? I believe P.T. Barnum was involved in the development of their business strategy.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @12:52AM (#25716327)

        This is meant to be 100x faster than the storage you're talking about:
        First [sun.com]: This uses Hybrid Storage Pool:
        The Hybrid Storage Pool combines DRAM, SSDs, and HDDs in the same system, dramatically reducing bottlenecks and providing breakthrough speed.
        Second [sun.com]: The system's hybrid architecture gives you the speed and performance you need to shatter the I/O bottlenecks with no administrator intervention. In fact, Hybrid Storage Pools with SSDs can improve I/O performance by 100x compared to mechanical disk drives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *

      > Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't charging enterprise prices for simplified hardware
      > that relies on commodity software solutions, kind of defeat the point?

      Yea, that is amazing. Ya could put in a pair of 1U servers with RAID1 on each for a fraction of that pricetag. Use any of a number of ways to make the two units cluster, including using OpenSolaris and you get everything they are selling except the pretty front end for about half the sticker, Go SCSI/SAS on all of the drives in 2U machines

      • by chrisj_0 (825246) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:49PM (#25712733)
        I don't think you could get the IOPs (or anywhere near) out of a pair of off the shelf 1u servers that they're advertising. I just checked dells website, their new AX4-5i (iscsi SAN) starts at over $14,000 and that only includes the 4x 750GB vault drives. Add 4x 1TB SATA drives (at $1,100 each) in a RAID 10 and you still wouldn't get the IOPs that Sun is talking about. This product looks to try and take a market share from the FC SAN vendors, not companies that want their in house geek to build a "cluster storage solution".
    • by darkjedi521 (744526) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:33PM (#25712543)
      Some of that is the custom gear that goes into making those beasts. Yes, it might eliminate the hardware raid card, but in the case of the 7210, the hardware to drive 48 SATA drives and not saturate the bus still isn't cheap. Plus hotswap everything, and the price quickly rises to something close to what Sun is charging. I use 4 x4500s at work for a single cluster, and they are a hell of a lot cheaper for that capacity than the traditional rack of fiber arrays/raid controllers/etc. The 4 of them cost me what another vendor wanted for half the raw storage (and far less usable storage).
      • the hardware to drive 48 SATA drives and not saturate the bus still isn't cheap.

        If you're driving 48 SATA drives on one bus, you're:

        A) Not looking at the minimum 11.5TB layout
        B) Not paying $35,000
        C) Not a small-business customer

        Which brings me back to: Sun is promising to target the small business and yet totally missed the mark. This is Enterprise hardware.

        • by kandresen (712861) on Monday November 10, 2008 @09:22PM (#25714565)

          Just a comment about the 48 disk setup; it is not always about getting the most space, but often about getting fastest response time. In this case the important factor is the amount of spindles. 11.5TB divided on 48 disks would be ~240GB a disk. Many companies would want 48 70GB disks as they are not in need of more space, only faster response times.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jcnnghm (538570)

          Small Businesses are businesses that make under $25M/year by definition. I can imagine small businesses being in the market for inexpensive, high throughput, SANs.

      • the hardware to drive 48 SATA drives and not saturate the bus still isn't cheap.

        Actually, SAS HBAs and JBODs (which is what Sun is using) are cheap; that's why it's odd that Sun is charging so much. For example, the 7210 is the same hardware as the X4540 yet it appears to cost much more.

        • by the_B0fh (208483)

          You're not reading what you quoted. The hardware to *DRIVE* the HDs are not cheap. You're not talking about using ONE PCI bus for the entire server, for example.

    • by rainer_d (115765) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:49PM (#25712747) Homepage

      I don't think it's that expensive.
      I use Promise's VtrakJ610s at work (16x1TB SATA), and it cost about half that - but I still need a server for it (DL385 in our case). And I need to fit the disks myself (16x4 countersunk screws...) into the ultra-cheap harddrive containers.
      A MSA70 full of SAS-disks (25) costs 10k, IIRC - but you need a server, HBAs etc.
      I'm soooooo sick of the "I could build one for XXX% less using YYY"-comments.
      Please, all the winers: go and start your own company selling and supporting storage-systems.
      Good night and good luck....

    • by sexconker (1179573) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:04PM (#25712927)

      It's SUN.
      They're goal is to stay relevant, their strategy is to make headlines.

      It's like a cross between a child acting up for attention and an emo cutting themselves.

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      You can build a single server containing 12TB powered by ZFS and RAIDZ for about $3000-3500 Canadian, including hot-swap drive bays. And the drives.

      Sure, there's probably a lot of redundancy in these Sun boxes, but if they're relying on ZFS/RAIDZ to provide much of the reliability, and you build your $3500 box (which is housed in a mid-tower case with 9 drive bays) using OpenSolaris, you're most of the way there. At that point, you've got the data reliability, you just might not have quite the same uptime.

      T

    • by SuperQ (431) *

      Yea, I recently built an 8T server. It cost me about $5000, and has no raid controller, and uses linux software raid.

      If I really wanted, I could buy a second $5000 server and do DRBD between them to have 2x redundancy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Godji (957148)

      the entire idea is to move data safety away from hardware redundancy toward software-driven duplication

      You are exactly right. When you pay the exorbitant price, you pay for great hardware, the development of great software (which you could have gotten for free), the convenience of a prepackaged solution, and for the hardware and software support.

      Should anything happen to these machines, you can always get your data back. If you can't afford another set of machines like these, simply plug the drives into anything that runs Solaris (or generally ZFS), and you have your data.

      Just because it's open doesn't m

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fweeky (41046)
      • Sun X4240, cheap from third party reseller not necessarily in the best of configurations: ~£2700.
      • 2 cheap and cheerful SSD's for ARC second level cache: £300. £1200 if you want ones with decent write performance.
      • 14*146GB 2.5" 10kRPM SAS disks: £2100.

      Even if you put it together and test it using slave labour, you're not getting much change from $11k.

      Sure, you could just plonk three 1.5T Seagates in there, shove a RAIDZ over it and call it a day, and that would

    • by dfn_deux (535506)
      Look at what netapp charges for similarly sized boxes and I'm sure you'll see this is probably at a similar price parity for size/performance. Netapp's wafl-fs is basically doing the same thing as ZFS (see netapp's lawsuit against Sun for more details). The addition of upgradeable cache ram, (something netapp only introduced to their product line with the 3040 addon cache card), and SSD based zfs disk cache should really make this system haul ass and explains a good portion of the pricing model.

      At the enter

    • But SUN is FAR from being the inventor of charging people $50k for something they could just as well get for free...

      Name ANY big IT vendor, they all do it. My father can tell some amazing stories on that subject. Not a new phenomenon either.

      Now, if you are the GOVERNMENT, they'll give you the special bonus public sector price, $150k!!!

  • What a stupid and misleading title. You can, and I suspect most people will, use RAID with these boxes. RAID-Z more than likely, though other types of RAID are possible too. It is not a RAID-less box, it's a box without a dedicated RAID controller.

  • I remember Sun's 52xx NAS storage line was a non-starter for many because it didn't have a lot of the competition's (NTAP) features that made it Just Work with Active Directory, CIFS, etc. I wonder if this is still the case?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mistshadow (35753) *

      It supports active directory, and user mapping between AD and LDAP. The CIFS stack is in-kernel.

  • No RAID? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:44PM (#25712675)

    "All of the new unified storage systems include comprehensive data services at no extra cost, Fowler said. These include snapshots/cloning, restores, mirroring, RAID-5, RAID-6, replication, active-active clustering, compression, thin provisioning, CIFS (Common Internet File System), NFS (Network File System), iSCSI, HTTP/FTP and WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning)."

    Note that this system includes "RAID".

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "All of the new unified storage systems include comprehensive data services at no extra cost, Fowler said. These include snapshots/cloning, restores, mirroring, RAID-5, RAID-6, replication, active-active clustering, compression, thin provisioning, CIFS (Common Internet File System), NFS (Network File System), iSCSI, HTTP/FTP and WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning)."

      Note that this system includes "RAID".

      (overheard in the Sun IT break room)

      "You know that fucking clueless Marketing guy? Yeah, he asked me to write up something for the new RAID-free array. Heh, I hooked him up."

  • by thanasakis (225405) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:47PM (#25712717)

    Considering that they've purchased MySQL, StorageTec and Cluster File Systems (of Lustre fame), developed ZFS, implemented CIFS in OpenSolaris from scratch (not Samba based), participated in NFSv4 and constructed the thumper, these machines hardly come as a surprise.

    For the last two years, almost all their moves are targeted towards one goal: Enter the storage market from a non-conventional angle. They want to do it unconventionally, because they know that storage more than anything else is becoming The commodity and today's toys won't cut it. Plus, at this point, all the mainstream storage vendors have difficulty tapping the low end. They may be able to sell their expensive products to clients with deep pockets, but for small businesses it's a different story. No to mention that they are unwilling to reinvent themselves. OTOH with all these inventions Sun may be trying to do what it did with workstations when it started in the 80s, start low and increase. Remains to be seen whether they can pull it.

    • by Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) on Monday November 10, 2008 @09:50PM (#25714835) Homepage

      Sun CIFS isn't reimplemented from scratch by Sun, it was code they got from their Procom acquisition. It remains to be seen if putting a CIFS server into an otherwise stable kernel is a good idea or not :-).

      Jeremy.

    • Plus, at this point, all the mainstream storage vendors have difficulty tapping the low end. They may be able to sell their expensive products to clients with deep pockets, but for small businesses it's a different story.

      This doesn't seem like the "low end" for small business to me. Someone up the page quoted that their cheapest model is $11k for 2TB. You should be able to get >10TB of disk space for that price.

      I'm not trying to say that Sun is a bad value. You might get some really great features for all that extra money. I wouldn't know because it's not worth investigating at those prices. There's no way I could justify spending $11k for 2TB.

  • by jcnnghm (538570) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:49PM (#25712745)

    This system will intelligently move the data around to put frequently accessed bits on the SSDs. This is a lot more than a 2u server with a few TB drives in a raid 10.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Read this [sun.com].
      Sun rocks.
      Real engineering here.
  • Zettabyte? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ethan0 (746390) on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:52PM (#25712773)

    ZFS doesn't stand for zettabyte anything. "The name originally stood for "Zettabyte File System", but is now an orphan acronym." from wikipedia, sourced from http://blogs.sun.com/bonwick/entry/you_say_zeta_i_say [sun.com] .

    and of course "RAID Array" is lovelily redundant phrasing.

    • by Barny (103770)

      It could be a cheap, redundant, RAID array of drives :P

    • But zettabyte wasn't perfect, actually. We (we were a team by now) found that when you call it the zettabyte filesystem, you have to explain what a zettabyte is, and by then the elevator has reached the top floor and all people know is that you're doing large capacity. Which is true, but it's not the main point.

      Should have just called it the Zinc File System. Then when people ask, tell em it's cause Zinc is good for you.
  • by More_Cowbell (957742) * on Monday November 10, 2008 @06:59PM (#25712863) Journal
    People, please stop trying to compare a couple of drives from Newegg tossed in a chassis as a similar product for thousands less, simply because you have the same storage capacity.
    That's not even apples and oranges, it's more like apples and redwoods.
    Last I checked Netapp was still charging $10,000 per TB! [dedupecalc.com] Do you really think there is no reason for this?
    • by QuasiEvil (74356) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:04PM (#25713685)

      I hate to say it, but for the small business market, they should be compared. If you're selling a 2TB redundant storage device to a small business without a huge IT department, then you're competing against what can be built from commodity parts (aka, crap from Newegg + Linux + RAID) because often cost, not performance, is the defining factor.

    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      Last I checked Netapp was still charging $10,000 per TB! Do you really think there is no reason for this?

      Of course there's a reason for this...the CEO needs a new private jet.

      Really, the profit in the storage arena is insane. Part of that because the marketing convinces management they need 50,000 IOPS to run what is essentially a flat-file database. Add in the "reliability" and "support" (which generally means that if you don't mind being told that a replacement part won't be in for a week and as long as you follow standard backup strategies, you probably won't actually lose any data), and it's pretty much

  • RAID-Less how??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mkcmkc (197982) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:08PM (#25712969)
    • It doesn't use Redundant storage?
    • The storage isn't an Array? (Meaning what? That it's composed of non-uniform parts?)
    • It's not Inexpensive?
    • It's not Disk-based?

    The third one I believe--the rest I'm skeptical about...

  • FTFA:

    All of the new unified storage systems include comprehensive data services at no extra cost, Fowler said. These include snapshots/cloning, restores, mirroring, optional RAID-5, optional RAID-6, replication, active-active clustering, compression, thin provisioning, CIFS (Common Internet File System), NFS (Network File System), iSCSI, HTTP/FTP and WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning).

    So, these RAID-less devices all include optional RAID-5 and optional RAID-6?

    Putting the RAID as part of

  • oh ok... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phaetonic (621542) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:57PM (#25714297)
    Fortune 500 companies typically standardize hardware, so people who say they can buy this from here, that from there, one more thing from eBay are rediculous.

    Also, to those who say small businesses can't afford this, its really an option. Some places like open source hodgepodges of hardware and some do not because their small business generates enough money that investing in enterprise class hardware with gold 4 hour response from a solid company with a history of UNIX experience and integration with Solaris.

    Also, said Fortune 500 companies get massive discounts, as what you're seeing is retail price.
  • by asv108 (141455) <{alex} {at} {phataudio.org}> on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @12:07AM (#25716031) Homepage Journal
    So far the comments on this thread consist of "I could hack together some system for x% of the Sun price."

    The goal of this product is to compete with Netapp. If you've ever experienced Netapp licensing/pricing, this Sun solution is a bargain. People seem to be forgetting that this is a storage appliance.

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