Sun builds storage on standards

Sun Microsystems Inc. last month launched a new version of its storage area network (SAN) management suite that is the first storage software to use standards central to an industry-wide effort to bridge the interoperability gap in multi-vendor SANs. The new management platform also ties together existing management applications under a single view.

Sun’s latest version of its StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager software uses Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM), the two primary elements of the Storage Networking Industry Association’s draft storage management specification, formerly known as Bluefin.

Mark Canepa, executive vice-president of storage products at Sun, said the new management software was based on proposed industry standards because it will eventually allow the company to offer packaged services based on whatever vendor’s products are used in a customer’s network storage architecture.

“Increasingly, our customers can’t afford to be their own system integrators,” Canepa said. “You not only have to manage your stuff, but in order to be able to make it in this environment, you’ve got to be able to manage a lot of other stuff. That’s how we intend to position ourselves and how we will differentiate ourselves vis-a-vis the Hewlett-Packards and IBMs of the world.”

Canepa said that in the future, Sun will focus on better service level agreements and lower total cost of ownership through multivendor storage networks. “We’re a systems company where customers come to get solutions to problems,” he said.

Sun’s decision to write its software to industry standards is a first, but the move will have little initial benefit because other vendors have yet to adopt the model, said Dianne McAdam, a storage analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H.

But “CIM standards are important, because customers will eventually benefit when we can manage everyone’s devices using the same standard,” McAdam said. “They’re ahead of the game, but at least they’re already going to be there when everyone else gets there.”

Charles Sears, manager of research computing for the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., is beta-testing Sun’s new storage management software and says interoperability is crucial to scaling a SAN that’s growing by terabytes every year.

“With more powerful processors and the decrease in overall cost associated with those processors, we’re entering a new age of commodity hardware,” said Sears. “As you build on this hardware, you have to worry about scale. Sun’s new software will finally allow us to get a handle on an enterprise view of our data.”

StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager suite offers topology reporting, network health monitoring, diagnostics and device monitoring under a centralized view.

In related news, Sun also announced new products in its tape library line. The new StorEdge L25 and L100 tape libraries will offer high capacity in a smaller footprint for midrange applications. The L100 and L25 tape libraries will be based on Quantum Corp.’s ATL M-Series automated tape libraries, which provide flexible performance and capacity, modular scalability and unbeatable density.

The Sun StorEdge Library scales from one to 12 tape drives, providing up to 20TB capacity when configured in a two-module stack. The Sun StorEdge L25 library scales from one to 14 tape drives, providing up to 35TB when configured in a seven-module stack. Both the L100 and L25 can be configured as a single integrated library using Sun’s StackLink appliance.