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Sun Microsystems' N8400 and N8600 NAS products offer higher capacity and performance

This document provides an overview of the May 8, 2001 announcement of the N8400 and N8600 models of Network Attached Storage devices by Sun Microsystems. Sun Microsystems is a system supplier with servers, software and storage.

Announcement highlights

On May 8, 2001 Sun Microsystems announced two new models of the scalable Network Attached Storage family called the Sun StorEdge N8000 Filers. Like the previously announced (May 30, 2000) N8200 model, the N8400 and N8600 are based on existing Sun hardware and software. These models represent higher storage capacity and higher performance than the N8200. This was accomplished by using the Sun StorEdge T3 array for attached storage and higher-end servers as the NAS platforms.

Some of the highlights of the N8400 and N8600 are:

  • Scalable from 1TB to 4TB usable capacity for the N8400 and 4TB to 10TB for the N8600
  • Pre-configured solution with simple administration using graphical user interface
  • Planned installation time of 10 minutes based on the simplicity
  • File server support for both NFS and CIFS
  • Uses Sun server and T3 storage arrays as base hardware and Solaris as the operating system
  • N8400 has 4 UltraSPARC processors with 4GB of memory (based on the Sun Enterprise 420R server)
  • N8600 has 8 UltraSPARC processors with 8GB of memory (based on the Sun Enterprise 4500 server

By having multiple products

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in the N8000 filer family, the Sun NAS products can compete across a wide range of capacity and performance for network attached storage. The competition targeted by Sun includes Network Appliance and EMC Celerra.

Product overview

The Sun StorEdge N8400 Filer is the mid-range of the N8000 family. The performance characterization is being done with the SpecNFS benchmark and performance data will be made available on the http://www.specbench.org/. Specific characteristics of the N8400 are:

  • Single 10/100 base-T Ethernet connection, Gigabit Ethernet, Quad Fast Ethernet adapters in up to 2 available PCI slots
  • 4GB of processor memory with 256MB of non-volatile memory per array
  • Support for NFS V2 and V3 and CIFS
  • Solaris 8 operating system on a 4 processor UltraSparc system (420R)
  • Utilizes the StorEdge T3 Array disk system with 73GB disk drives at 10,000 rpm - minimum of 18 drives and a maximum of 72 for the maximum of 4TB. The T3 uses 7-data/1 parity/1 hot spare drive.
  • External DLT 7000 tape supported
  • Redundant power, fans, and power cords
  • Pre-configured and "tuned" operating environment for ease of installation and performance
  • Support for both Solstice Backup and VERITAS NetBackup and NDMP.

Sun has made a statement of intent about the N8000 family that will be applicable to the new models which is the future attachment to a SAN for backup of the storage in the NAS device. From a backup standpoint, the N8400 and N8600 can be backed up over the LAN or to a direct attached tape drive. Sun can be expected to bundle the backup software in the pre-configured system. The future attachment to a SAN should provide significant improvements in capability.

Failover mechanisms are not currently available but Sun has made a statement that a clustering solution will be available in the future. The ability to do a remote copy from the NAS device could potentially be included with that capability.

Evaluator Group Comments

The two models of the N8000 Filer family that were just made available had been previously announced when the original N8000 announcement was made (5/30/00). The N8200 was made available shortly after that and the two higher-end models have just followed. These new models use the Sun StorEdge T3 array as the storage system integrated with the NAS controller (the NAS controller being standard Sun servers that are pre-configured at the factory).

The new models complete the product line that was promised with entry, mid, and high-end systems that vary in performance and capacity. Yet to be delivered is the full clustering support for non-stop operations. Sun can be expected to deliver that in the future due to competitive pressures. The additional models were necessary to cover the spectrum for Sun's customers that require NAS solutions. Some additional software functions such as remote copy would also add to the value for the customer. Sun will definitely have more to offer its customers with the new models. =================================================
To view another analysis and commentary in this month's review series from the Evaluator Group, go to http://www.searchStorage.com/tip/1,289483,sid5_gci557272,00.html =================================================


This was first published in June 2001

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