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Oracle gives Sun 7000 storage a Fibre Channel option

Oracle upgraded its flagship disk storage platform this week, adding Fibre Channel host connectivity to the Sun Storage 7000 multiprotocol series while doubling down on its SAS disk interface support.

Sun originally launched the 7000 as a ZFS-based Ethernet platform, mainly focused on handling file data with iSCSI thrown in for block storage. That was in late 2008, more than a year before Oracle closed its acquisition of Sun. But Oracle’s senior director of storage products Jason Schaffer says customers wanted Fibre Channel to make the 7000 better suited for primary storage.

“When we first launched the 7000, we had a strong lineup of Fibre Channel with our 6000 series and the gap in our portfolio was NAS,” he said. “Early adopters used [the 7000] mainly for disk-to-disk-to-tape backup. Over time people started to trust it in other environments, like for virtual servers, and it was being brought in more as primary storage for consolidated workloads.”

Schaffer said current customers can download software for Fibre Channel support. He says about 15% of 7000 customers already downloaded software to use it for Fibre Channel over the past few months, even before Oracle officially announced FC support.

The 7000 also features built-in data deduplication, which Sun added to ZFS late last year. Another big part of the 7000 upgrade is support for 2 TB SAS drives, doubling the total capacity of the system to 576 TB. Schaffer says he sees no need for FC drives because the 7000 supports 6 Gbps SAS, solid state drives (SSDs) and SATA – especially with ZFS’ ability to use SSDs as high-speed disk cache.

“DRAM flash and SAS drives are more cost efficient than 15,000 RPM Fibre Channel drives,” he said.

The 7000 also takes advantage of data deduplication built into ZFS.

Oracle severed its OEM deal with Hitachi Data Systems to sell the Sun StorageTek 9000 enterprise SAN systems earlier this year, choosing to concentrate on the 7000 platform. But Schaffer said Oracle also remains committed to the Sun StorageTek 6000 series of Fibre Channel arrays, which consist of LSI Corp. controllers and Sun management software. “We’re still supporting and growing the 6000 platform,” he said, “although the bulk of our engineering will be on the 7000 series going forward.”

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