Sun to release storage-server product next year

Combined offering is said to integrate hardware and software

Sun will deliver its first server-storage hybrid under the FishWorks label in the first quarter of 2008, says the company’s Asia-Pacific technology evangelist, Robert Nieboer.

He was addressing an open source storage presentation in Wellington earlier this month. Nieboer, who has presented regularly in New Zealand over the past decade, said he was amazed at the size of the audience, noting that attendance was twice as large as usual.

FishWorks stands for “fully integrated software and hardware” and is a hardware/software solution designed to be used in supporting storage-oriented workloads. Sun’s Solaris 10 operating system, which has effectively been amortised, allows the appliance to be sold at an attractive price point.

“From an engineering perspective, servers and storage are together in Sun,” says Nieboer. “We’re moving to a storage/server hybrid. The integrated open source packaging will change the economics [of storage] forever.”

Sun announced six months ago that it was moving to open source on all its storage.

Nieboer says the initial FishWorks products will be aimed at small- to medium-sized enterprises.

“The complete commoditisation of technology will drive down cost, and the new solutions that combine servers and storage will free up existing technology lock-ins.”

Analyst firm IDC commented earlier this year that FishWorks appeared to be essentially a software technology to try to sell more hardware by integrating the two. IDC noted that Sun, in a briefing, had discussed using a single box to host several software appliances.

Open sourcing the FishWorks appliance builder would make a lot of sense because it would help get developers working with Solaris which, in turn, could help Sun build out its Solaris ecosystem, IDC says.

Nieboer says Solaris 10 is the basis of a good storage system because it has already been paid for on the server side.

“Open-source storage is a disruptive technology that will do for storage what general purpose open systems has done for computers,” he says.

Nieboer has been in the storage side of the industry for 23 years. He says the major issues today around storage are cost and management complexity.

He quotes a United Nations study that shows management and administration costs growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2002 to 2012 while spending on new hardware remains basically static.

One study, he says, suggests that between 2010 and 2015 more than half of all power consumption in the US will be consumed by IT.

“Nobody every deletes anything,” he says. “In the past several years, doing presentations around the world, I have asked the question and found only six people worldwide who delete old data.”

Two of these were in New Zealand.

“The single most important thing you can do in the whole of information management is data classification.”

By that he means the business, as opposed to IT, has to make decisions about what data it needs to keep in whatever form of storage: online, nearline, offline, or plain deletion.

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