Sun's Open Boxes Go Cheap, Bulky

Vendor also adds hybrid storage server to Thumper line.

Sun launched a new line of cheaper and bulkier open storage boxes today for enterprises wanting greater capacity in an easy-to-scale fashion.

The J4000 line features three systems ranging from 12 drives to 48 drives that can connect directly to servers running Solaris, Linux or Windows as well as OpenSolaris platforms.

In addition Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) announced a high-performance hybrid "storage server" called the Sun Fire x4540, for its X4500 Thumper series. Thumper, which debuted in 2006, is a four-way data server that provides up to 27 terabytes of storage in a 7-inch rack space.

The products are a continuation of Sun's advocacy of open storage tied to its OpenSolaris OS effort, which Sun said can cut storage costs to below $1 per gigabyte. Traditional proprietary storage systems hover around $5 to $6 a gigabyte.

"The goal is to reduce total cost of ownership as that's the primary benefit of open storage," Ray Austin, Sun's group manager for storage product management, told

Bulky cheap storage is in demand as enterprises struggle to store data piles growing at a 50 percent rate each year.

The beauty mark with bare-bones boxes, as one analyst described Sun's products, is that enterprises can drop in capacity where needed without lots of additional software and add-on management tools. "This gives buyers a number of options as it gives big blocks at a low cost," John Webster, storage analyst, Illuminata, told

"It provides capacity that doesn't cost a whole lot but does require some sophistication on the part of the buyer," Webster added, explaining that open storage environments typically require management expertise and system administration knowledge.

"This is for the enterprise where storage admins know what they want to do with it and can make it work with their applications," said the analyst.

Price point is the main catalyst spurring the open storage market, which Sun predicts will grow 23 percent annually for the next three years.

The J4000 series, which starts at $3,000, provides good density with up to 12 drives per rack, a design that Sun said saves on physical operations space.

The Sun Fire X4540 storage server, which starts at $22,000, integrates industry standard server and storage components under an open architecture when run over Solaris OS and Solaris ZFS, according to Sun.

TAGS: Linux,Sun Microsystems,open storage,OpenSolaris,Thumper

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