Sun ships open-source arrays

By Kevin Komiega

-- Sun Microsystems today continued to push its open-source storage initiative with the debut of a new family of low-cost disk arrays and the availability of the Sun Fire X4540, a new addition to the company’s Sun Fire X4500 "Thumper" family. The X4540 has faster processors, PCI Express (PCIe) connectivity, and more memory than previous systems.

The newest members of the Sun storage family are the Sun Storage J4200, J4400, and J4500 arrays. Based on industry standard hardware, the key selling point of the J4000 series is its pricing, with a cost of less than $1 per gigabyte for bulk storage applications.

The J4200 features up to 12 drives per tray and 46 SAS or SATA drives. The J4400 offers up to four drives per tray, six SAS ports, and 192 3.5-inch SAS or SATA drives. Climbing up the capacity scale, the J4500 offers 48 drives per tray, four SAS ports, and as many as 480 SATA drives.

The entry-level J4200 is priced from $3,000 for a 500GB configuration, while a 6TB version of the J4400 starts at $8,500 and a 24TB J4500 is priced from approximately $28,000.

Some may look at the J4000 family and see just another JBOD. However, Raymond Austin, Sun’s group manager for storage product management, says "the J4000s scale to greater levels of capacity and performance, with greater connectivity, than traditional JBODs."

Sun has put the intelligence in the server by taking traditional RAID controllers out of the J4000 series. Applications reside on the server with the data close by on the array, an approach that, according to Austin, does away with multiple layers of storage management. "In the case of the J4400, there is no array stack in the product. It relies on the server. You don’t have to deal with separate management frameworks for the SAN, storage array, and server. We collapsed the management on the server for open storage environments," he says.

Sun also introduced a new host bus adapter (HBA) that allows J4000 systems to connect directly to servers through one or more high-speed interfaces for external expansion. The new SAS RAID HBA enables users to connect J4000 systems to Solaris, Linux, or Windows platforms. It can also be deployed in Sun Open Storage and OpenSolaris environments.

For performance-minded sites, Sun has upgraded its Sun Fire series for companies running high-performance computing (HPC), storage grid, data warehousing, and video streaming applications.

The new Sun Fire X4540 system is available at the same price point as the original Sun Fire X4500 Thumper system, with double the performance via quad-core processors.

A 12TB X4540 is priced from $21,000.

The Sun Storage J4200 and J4400 have been shipping for about a month, while the J4500 and Sun Fire X4540 will be available within the next few weeks.

Sun hits its price points with a combination of commodity hardware and free, open-source software with OpenSolaris and the Solaris ZFS file system. "When you combine our Open Storage [hardware products] with OpenSolaris you can create some breakthrough economics," says Austin. "License fees make up the bulk of the cost of storage. These products allow customers to substantially lower their total cost of ownership."

Related articles:

Sun joins the SSD scramble
Sun expands open archiving products
Sun adds tools, services for open-source storage

This article was originally published on July 09, 2008