Computerworld

Sun enhances NAS, touts improved performance

Sun Microsystems Tuesday unveiled a new network-attached storage (NAS) system with a 55 percent improvement in performance over the previous model, but it isn't yet formally announcing its long-awaited Honeycomb storage system.

Beta-tester Bill Paraska, director of university computing at Georgia State University in Atlanta, praised the StorageTek 5320 NAS Appliance for its flexibility and ease of configuration, noting that it took just a couple of hours to set up. "A SAN would have been days or weeks," he said.

The university is using the device to do journal backups of its PeopleSoft and Banner ERP systems to improve its disaster recovery. "What we're actually doing is taking Oracle transaction logs from those systems and using the Sun device to do journal updates as they occur," Paraska said. The journal updates are performed hourly, which means that the university loses at most an hour's worth of data, instead of two weeks, he said. Paraska is also looking at using the device for storing research computations and for the Novell GroupWise administrative e-mail system.

The 5320 NAS Appliance is an extension of Sun's current 5000 NAS family and will replace the existing 5310 device. It is based on technology the company obtained from its acquisition of Procom Technology a year ago and has a new processor based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc. 64-bit Opteron processor. Previously, the device had been based on the Sun V65 server.

The 5320 NAS Appliance is set to ship within the next 30 days for a starting price of US$49,990 for 2.5TB. A high-availability cluster version, with two heads, starts at US$68,990.

Sun did not formally announce its Honeycomb content-addressed storage device, which it has been demonstrating recently. But Honeycomb is shipping now in limited quantities and will be generally available this quarter, said James Whitemore, vice president and chief marketing officer for Sun's data management group. The device stores metadata and makes it available through application programming interfaces to applications, which makes it searchable and retrievable. It is similar to hierarchical storage management but allows an application to put it into production as required, he said.

Sun also announced a framework for its future storage product line with four key areas: identity management, virtualization, security and management. In identity management, the company has combined several of its existing products to make them easier for storage administrators to use. "When you sign on as a storage administrator, you're authorized as to which parts of the data management infrastructure you can access," Whitemore said.

In virtualization, the company is adding two new versions of its Virtual Storage Manager: VSM 5, which doubles the capacity and performance of the existing model, and the VSM4e, which has less performance and capacity but for a lower price. These will ship within 90 days.

In security, the company is adding encryption technologies to its tape portfolio. And in management, Sun is defining the "information management maturity model," which provides a framework for a set of existing management and assessment tools to help users boost the utilization of their storage networks.