Sun's SSD arrays hit the streets

By Kevin Komiega

-- Sun Microsystems made good on its promise to ship new storage arrays designed to take advantage of high-performance solid-state disk (SSDs) drives this week with the launch of the first three appliances in its Open Storage portfolio, the Sun Storage 7000 family.

The Sun Storage 7000 arrays -- known in-house at Sun as the "Amber Road" family of products -- are unified storage devices that provide file serving via CIFS and NFS as well as block-level iSCSI connectivity.

Each of the appliances include an integrated software stack with support for Solaris, Linux, and Windows, standard high-speed networking and tape connectivity, the open source Sun MySQL database, and a new suite of management software with analytics tools from Sun's "FISHWorks" (Fully Integrated Software and Hardware) project.

The systems also exploit the Hybrid Storage Pools feature within Solaris ZFS to automatically accelerate and optimize performance.

Graham Lovell, senior director of Open Storage at Sun, says most of today's storage systems use 15,000rpm Fibre Channel drives, which are high-performance, medium density, and consume a lot of power. He says Sun has taken an alternative approach.

"We use SSDs to accelerate read-and-write performance and use SATA disks to provide the bulk storage capacity," says Lovell. "What you end up with is a set of devices that provide better performance and utilization and consume one-third the power of competing arrays."

Lovell adds that Solaris ZFS was designed to automatically recognize different I/O patterns and organize data to optimize system performance. The result is that Solaris ZFS can automatically use and manage four tiers of storage comprised of a DRAM tier, a read-optimized storage tier, a write-optimized storage tier, and a general storage tier.

The Amber Road arrays also include storage services at no extra cost, such as snapshots, clones, restore, mirroring, replication, compression, thin provisioning, and support for CIFS, NFS, HTTP/FTP, and WebDAV.

There are three models in the 7000 series. The entry-level Sun Storage 7110 starts with 2TB of capacity with support for up to 44TB, although it does not use SSDs. The midrange 7210 houses up to 288TB of capacity in the Sun Fire X4500 Server (Thumper) format configurable with write-optimized SSD support. The enterprise-class 7410 supports up to 500TB of data, is configurable with read- and write-optimized SSDs, and large processor and cache capacities. The 7410 systems are also available in clustered configurations.

The Sun Storage 7110 is shipping today and is priced from $10,995 with 2TB of capacity. The 7210 will begin shipping later this month at a price of $34,995 for an 11.5TB configuration.

A single-node version of the high-end 7410 will also ship by month's end with a starting price of $57,490 for 12TB, while a clustered two-node version starts at $89,490 for the same 12TB of capacity.

Sun is using SSDs manufactured by STEC in the 7000 series and plans to expand its use of flash technologies across its storage devices with SSD technology from Intel.

Related articles:
Sun joins the SSD scramble
SNIA launches SSD initiative
SSD flash drives enter the enterprise

This article was originally published on November 12, 2008