open storage
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Joined: Aug 2009
16-12-2009, 05:18 PM

As a general term, open storage refers to storage systems built with an open architecture using industry-standard hardware and open-source software. In an open architecture, customers can select the best hardware and software components to meet their requirements. For example, a customer who needs network file services can use an open storage filer built from a standard x86 server, disk drives, and OpenSolaris technology at a fraction of the cost of a proprietary NAS appliance, such as a NetApp fabric-attached storage (FAS) system.

Almost all modern disk arrays and NAS are closed systems. Examples include EMC Symmetrix, IBM System Storage DS8300, and HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Arrays (EVAs). All the components of a closed system must come from the vendor. Customers are locked into buying disk drives, controllers, and proprietary software features from a single vendor at premium prices and typically cannot add their own drives or software to improve functionality or reduce the cost of the closed system.

For more than 20 years, storage system vendors have utilized more and more standard components in their products but have not passed along savings to their customers, because the products have remained closed and proprietary. Standard CPUs, memory, and disk drives are used by most storage vendors, but closed, proprietary storage systems can cost up to five times the market price for standard components such as disk drives.

During this decade, open-source software has radically altered the computing landscape. Many new storage systems use Linux or OpenSolaris as their base operating system. Vendors have turned open source into proprietary systems by augmenting basic Linux with their own storage-specific features such as snapshots, remote replication, and volume management. Ironically, most of these systems come to market as closed systems, and customers are not able to add software, substitute disk drives, or modify the vendorâ„¢s software.

Examples include IBMâ„¢s XIV,EMCâ„¢s Centera, and NECâ„¢s Hydrastor. Despite the rise of open systems and open source, closed architectures continue to dominate the storage market.

Sun Open Storage systems combine open architecture with sophisticated opensource storage software, freeing storage customers from proprietary lock-in. Sun has released a significant volume of storage software to many communities through open-source licensing, in order to enrich their code bases. Sun OpenSolaris opensource contributions include the world™s best file system, Solaris ZFS, and two archive systems, the Sun StorageTek„¢ Archive Manager and Sun StorageTek„¢ 5800 system. In addition, the Sun StorageTek„¢ Availability Suite offers robust volume snapshot and remote replication features. NFS and CIFS servers providing NAS server functionality have also been open sourced. Lastly, the innovative COMSTAR software framework adds a state-of-the-art SCSI target platform that uniquely separates the SCSI protocol handling from the transport protocols (such as FC, iSCSI, SAS, and tape). This facilitates higher performance and flexibility for a wide range of storage devices. These and the many other features in OpenSolaris technology enable endusers, OEMs, and developers to build innovative and inexpensive storage systems with very little software development. By participating in the OpenSolaris project and implimentation,developers can tap the expertise of world-class software engineers.


There are several new business opportunities that require vast amounts of inexpensive storage ” and these opportunities cannot be realized with today™s traditional storage architectures. Google and Amazon probably could not exist in their current forms if they hadn™t built their own storage infrastructures. Traditional storage architectures built from proprietary products were simply too expensive and inflexible to accomplish the scale and economics demanded by their online business models.

The rapid growth of new digital data demands new storage architectures that offer more flexibility and radically different storage economics. Web 2.0 applications are growing at a tremendous rate and require highly scalable and affordable storage. Industry-standard hardware, open-source software, and community development trends also continue to grow, and they are key enablers to building a new, open storage architecture.

Additionally, there are many market segments and storage trends that are fast growing and can benefit greatly from a new, open storage architecture. Eco-responsible IT efforts can leverage open storageâ„¢s lower energy consumption, economic, and consolidationadvantages. HPC environments are almost exclusively built from open-source software and already utilize open storage architectures to efficiently manage vast storage pools, high I/O bandwidth, and low latency needs. Virtualized server environments can also leverage the flexibility and consolidation advantages of open storage.

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