Sun revamps storage line, pricing

Sun Microsystems has announced its first near-line arrays based on Serial Advanced Technology Attachment disk drives, which it claims will offer 70 per cent more storage capacity than similarly priced Fibre Channel-based disk arrays.

The company also said it plans to eventually sell a network-attached storage line of arrays.

Among a half-dozen announcements at its quarterly earnings news conference, the company said it would begin offering customers a subscription-based pricing model for storage.

Sun's utility computing model is based on the StorEdge 9980 array and includes storage resource and device management software from Hitachi Data Systems and installation services. The package also includes platinum services and support starting at $US1.95 per gigabyte per month with a three-year contract.

"This is not a capital expenditure for customers," director of strategic alliances at Sun's Networked Storage Group, Adam Mendoza, said. "This is intended to be an operational expense,"

Sun said it was expanding its StorEdge 3000 line of arrays to include Serial ATA drives for near-line storage. The StorEdge 3120 is a 1U (4.4cm-high) SCSI storage server based on JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) technology with 5TB to 8TB capacity. It costs $US5000 to $US11,000 retail depending on configuration. The StorEdge 3511 array comes with 3TB to 16TB of capacity, can be configured for RAID and costs $US27,000 to $US50,000 retail.

Mendoza said two new arrays were part of a tiered storage model that included high-end, midrange, low-end and tape storage that would eventually all be managed by under Sun's N1 platform.

Sun also announced plans to use intelligent switching technology to pool storage within heterogeneous storage-area networks (SAN) based on the storage industry's SMI-S standard. Sun acquired storage virtualization technology when it bought Pirus Networks in November 2002. The new Sun StorEdge 6920 virtualisation engine will be available in the next 45 days and include software for point-in-time, remote replication and data migration - as well as for centralised management for business applications such as online transaction processing, data warehousing and enterprise resource planning.

Mendoza said Sun would release an upgrade to the switch by year's end that would include mirroring and other functionality that could be added via a software upgrade without disrupting the current system.

Sun also announced Version 4.1 of its Storage Archive Manager/Quick File System (SAM/QFS), a high-performance file-sharing system that gives multiple users access to a centralised file-sharing pool based on a caching schema as well as hierarchical storage management.

Sun StorEdge SAM-QFS software affords policy-based file management for more than 2000 remote sites worldwide, including continuous dynamic archiving, which automatically archives new or changed files; a new graphical user interface and wizards for easier management and configuration; and the capacity to scale a file system to 1 petabyte, or four times greater than the previous version.

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