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Sun debuts Storage One Architecture portfolio

At its annual analyst conference, Sun Microsystems announced a portfolio of new storage software, subsystems, services, and partner programs. These announcements fall under what Sun has referred to as its Storage One Architecture. Modeled after the Sun Open Network Environment (ONE), Storage One is Sun's architecture to provide an open, integrated storage management family. The goals of the Storage One software architecture are to provide the following: (1) an integrated storage management framework to enable a service-level approach to application storage provisioning, (2) the best convergence of virtualization capabilities for storage resource and application management, and (3) an integrated and open storage management architecture with policy-based automation.

Sun introduced its Sun StorEdge 3900 and 6900 storage subsystems and enhancements to its StorEdge 9900 series. The StorEdge 3900 and 6900 are intended primarily for Sun's homogeneous server market and the StorEdge 9900 is targeted for the enterprise heterogeneous storage market. Extending its service offerings, Sun announced new consulting, support, and training services including remote services capabilities, storage centers, and implementation offerings for the Sun StorEdge storage solutions. Sun reinforced the iForce Storage Elite Program and the Sun storage certification program.

Sun StorEdge 3900 overview

The StorEdge 3900 subsystem is an integration of Sun T3 storage arrays,

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QLogic Fibre Channel switches, a storage service processor and optional call-home functionality. The StorEdge 3900 is targeted for homogenous Sun environments. The controller or pair of controllers can only be accessed by one type of host.

The StorEdge 3900 is available in two models, the Model 3910 and the Model 3960. The StorEdge 3910 uses partner pairs (redundant controllers) of Sun T3 arrays (each with 1GB of cache). A maximum of eight (8) StorEdge T3 arrays (four partner pairs) can reside in the StorEdge 3910 subsystem. The StorEdge 3960 uses partner pairs of Sun T3 arrays (each with 1GB of cache). A maximum of eighteen (18) StorEdge T3 arrays (nine partner pairs) can reside in the StorEdge 3960 subsystem.

Each of the models has integrated a storage service processor. The storage service processor is a server with a single 500-MHz, 64-bit UltraSPARC processor, a minimum of 512 MB of on-board memory (expandable to 1 GB), and a 40 GB internal IDE internal disk drive. The storage service processor is preloaded with the Solaris 8 operating system with applicable configuration tools and software.

The StorEdge 3910 uses two Sun StorEdge 8-port switches (QLogic). The StorEdge 3960 uses two Sun StorEdge 16-port switches (QLogic). The switches in both models are configured for redundant host and storage connections. Each of the switches is connected via Ethernet to the service network for management and service from the storage service processor.

StorEdge 3900 software includes; StorADE (StorEdge Agent and Diagnostic Expert), Network Storage Agent (server-based health and diagnostic monitoring), StorTools (switch fault isolation), SANSurfer (switch management), T3 array extractor (configuration information), configuration utilities and the Sun Remote Response software suite.

Sun StorEdge 6900 overview

The StorEdge 6900 is targeted for multi-platform storage pooling (Sun Solaris and Intel-based servers running Windows NT/2000). The StorEdge 6900 allows more than one type of host to access the controller or controller pairs but not share the LUNs (each host can only access its specific LUNs). The Sun StorEdge 6900, like the StorEdge 3900 subsystem, is an integration of Sun T3 storage arrays, Fibre Channel switches, a storage service processor and optional call-home functionality. However, added to the StorEdge 6900 is a storage virtualization engine. Sun has integrated the Vicom SV router to provide a symmetrical pooling solution. The Sun StorEdge 6910 subsystems ships with two storage virtualization engines; the Sun StorEdge 6960 ships with four storage virtualization engines.

Evaluator Group notes:

An analysis of the Vicom storage virtualization solution is available on the ES/OL database in the SAN Management section.

Vicom SV router overview - The Vicom storage virtualization engine is a set of software and a hardware platforms to implement the virtualization function with advanced capabilities. The hardware device is called the SV router, which contains a processor and embedded software to perform the virtualization function. The SV router sits between the servers and the storage in a storage area network and controls storage devices on the SAN. It will also execute commands for specific functions from other servers running the Vicom SV software utilities. The SV router accepts a data access command from a server for a virtual LUN, performs the mapping to the physical LUN and executes the command to the device. Data and a command are buffered in the SV router and protocol conversion is done if necessary. The SV router may have devices directly attached or through a SAN.

Software provided by Vicom is the SV SAN Monitor, the SV SAN Builder, the SV Zone Manager, and the copy services options to supplement the SV SAN Builder. The SV SAN Monitor is a software tool that may run on any server or workstation to monitor the configuration and health of the storage network. The software uses a Web-based interface for administrator interaction and allows event notification to be set based on certain criteria with e-mail or pager notification. The SV SAN Builder is software that also may run on any server or workstation connected to the storage network. This software performs the configuration and administration of the SAN virtualization engine, which includes configuration of the virtual devices, topology visualization, and security administration (security or zoning is done by the SV Zone Manager). Both a GUI (available for Windows clients) and a command line interface (available for most major operating systems) are available which allow interactive as well as scripting control. Diagnostics for the SV routers and storage devices may be performed and, additional event and error logging is set up by the SV SAN Builder. The copy services options are added function software that work with the SV SAN Builder software. Currently there are three options defined; (1) Instant Copy option makes an additional copy of a RAID-1 mirrored set. This copy can be used for data migration and backup, (2) Backup/Restore Agent is software for automating the process of copying data to the Instant Copy drive, breaking the copy set, making a tape backup of the Instant Copy drive and for restoring data and (3) Remote Copy option is for asynchronous and synchronous remote copy over an IP connection to a remote disk on the network.

The SV Zone Manager is software that also may run on any server connected to the storage network. This software performs the security management provided by Vicom. With it the storage administrator creates zones based on LUN masking and worldwide names. Alternate zone mapping may be created and zones may be reconfigured online. Both a GUI (available for Windows clients) and a command line interface (available for most major operating systems) are supported. With the zone definitions, multiple servers may be allowed access to virtual devices as defined by the administrator.

Evaluator Group note:

Sun has not integrated all of the available function of the SV router. We can expect the additional function (e.g. Copy Services) in a future announcement.

Enhancements to the Sun StorEdge 9900

Sun announced the following enhancements to its StorEdge 9900 series:

  • SXRC, TrueCopy over Fibre Channel (Fibre Channel as the transport for remote copy functions)
  • 2 Gbit Fibre Channel support (host support for 2 Gbit Fibre Channel)
  • 181 GB disk drive support (added 181 GB drive support to the 9900)
  • PAV/MA software support (support for Parallel Access Volumes and Multiple Allegiance)
  • StorEdge SRM 9900 View (Sun StorEdge SRM Enterprise edition automatically scans disks, file systems, directories, share points, and files. It allows a user to centrally monitor capacity, utilization, and performance trends; classify and measure existing network storage to plan and monitor SAN deployments; view logical and physical SAN resource attributes; proactively report on RAID devices for disk consumption and management).
  • Director switch support (Brocade, McDATA, and INRANGE)

Evaluator Group comments:

Beginning last year with the announcement of the relationship with Hitachi, Sun has followed a strategy to increase the attachment rate within its own base, gain a deeper penetration in Sun's traditional markets and into key growth (vertical) markets, and become a player in heterogeneous storage markets. The StorEdge 9900 provided Sun with a heterogeneous, enterprise-class storage subsystem for its Enterprise servers. The StorEdge 9900 has stopped the wholesale plugging of the Sun Enterprise servers by its major competitors (EMC, IBM, HP). Sun stated they have installed over 200 StorEdge 9900 subsystems through Q1CY02. The majority of the installations were at the expense of EMC. The enhancements announced were expected and follow enhancements announced by Hitachi. We can expect Sun to continue to follow closely any enhancements to the Hitachi 9900.

The StorEdge 3900 and 6900 subsystems are clearly intended for the Sun midrange base. The integration of storage subsystems, Fibre Channel switches, support processors and management software has proven to be an effective method of removing much of the complexity of Fibre Channel SANs. Sun stated the StorEdge 3900 and 6900 subsystems would be priced aggressively. It is becoming more difficult to plug the Sun base. With the StorEdge 6900, Sun has introduced a symmetrical pooling abstraction solution. The integration of the Vicom SV Router is an excellent move by Sun. The relationship with Sun to offer the SVE as part of the StorEdge 6900 is a boon to Vicom, giving them a major OEM offering. This should allow Vicom to be successful in extending the product with new capabilities. There are a few factors that will be used against this solution by the competition: the usage of only class 3 support and a serial interface for out-of-band maintenance and control. Vicom can be expected to address these in the future as a competitive issue. Some software-only solutions or solutions that use standard hardware will also focus on the use of Vicom-only supplied hardware. In the end, however, the value in overall administrative cost reduction is what matters most. We expect Sun to extend the SV router functions, particularly in the copy functions, in the near term.

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This was first published in March 2002

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