Sun Leads Developers Down the Open Storage Path

Sun Microsystems on Tuesday brought new how-to guides and services to the community of more than 3,000 developers using its OpenSolaris-based open storage platform.

Two how-to recipes aim to help developers build solid storage systems quickly and efficiently, while the new service capabilities are designed to speed open storage application development and help customers safely make the transition to an open storage infrastructure.

Both are part of Sun’s efforts to continue what it calls the “open storage revolution” by which the OpenSolaris community is embracing open storage rather than proprietary solutions offered by other vendors.

“The storage industry is undergoing a radical transformation that parallels what servers went through a decade ago,” said John Fowler, executive vice president of the systems group for Sun. “Solaris OS, ZFS and the work of the OpenSolaris storage community provide rock-solid, enterprise class scalability and value, giving customers a low-cost way to leverage these open architectures without sacrificing quality or reliability.”

Open Storage Advantages

OpenSolaris is Sun’s effort to build a developer community around its Solaris operating system technology.

Unlike proprietary solutions, open platforms let developers repurpose and reuse hardware through the simple addition of new software, Sun said, resulting in increased performance and price-performance rewards for customers.

Sun hopes to foster an industry shift in the open direction through its OpenSolaris storage community with existing products like the Sun Fire x4500 server “Thumper” system — which it says is the world’s first hybrid server/storage data server — and the Solaris ZFS file system capabilities within the Solaris operating system.

Together, those products help customers reduce costs by up to 90 percent through the use of open source software on industry standard systems, Sun says.

’10 Minutes or Less’

Among Sun’s newest offerings is a guide titled “Setting Up an OpenSolaris Storage Server in 10 Minutes or Less,” which is a how-to recipe intended to familiarize developers with the simple commands in Solaris for performing data management tasks, such as ZFS, NFS, CIFS and COMSTAR.

Also released Tuesday was Sun’s “Simple steps to building a network-attached storage (NAS) appliance,” a recipe that describes the steps required to build a NAS device with OpenSolaris operating system quickly and easily.

Sun’s new service capabilities, meanwhile, are designed to help customers tackle a variety of open storage application development challenges, such as creating an open storage architectural design from a proprietary system or a data-migration issue, Sun said.

Storage ‘Democratization’

By leveraging Sun services, advanced developer tools and the community approach to creating and upgrading storage software and other applications, messaging services firm DigiTar has saved time and reduced data center costs, according to Jason Williams, the Boise, Idaho-based company’s chief technology officer.

“Sun has provided a platform for the democratization of the storage industry,” Williams said. “We have found the appropriate level of operating system support we need to run our business through the OpenSolaris storage community, which saves significant time and money. I participate in the community daily and see real business value in the projects that are being created by some of the industry’s most important players.”

In the world of virtualization and sophisticated storage technologies, “it’s hard to create an end-to-end solution,” Bernard Golden, CEO of open source management company Navica, told LinuxInsider. “If they can help do that, it’s a huge benefit.”

‘Truly Catching On’

Finally, Sun also announced that its open storage community now comprises more than 3,000 members and boasts more than 30 active projects; it is one of the fastest-growing open source communities in the world, Sun said. Storage industry leaders including Hitachi Data Systems, Qlogic and Emulex have contributed their software to the OpenSolaris community; other community participants include storage solutions vendor Nexenta and instructor-training provider LiveAmmo, Sun said.

Companies including MySQL, Drupal, Confluence, Alfresco and SugarCRM, meanwhile, are using OpenSolaris storage technologies within their product offerings, Sun said.

“The community has existed for about a year, but we had never really quantified what it looks like,” Sun spokesperson Alex Plant told LinuxInsider. “We’re seeing that this is truly catching on.”

Necessary Steps

Indeed, an open source initiative survives only “to the degree that its developer community prospers,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told LinuxInsider.

“When a vendor like Sun decides to pursue an open source development model with some of its formerly proprietary products, it’s critical that it make it as easy as possible for developers to make a living using that platform,” King explained. “This is basically them saying, ‘What can we do to make it as easy as possible for developers to build applications for the platform?'”

How-to guides and expanded services “are the kinds of practical steps a vendor needs to make to broaden appeal and bring more people into the tent,” he added. “It’s not a circus if the tent is empty.”

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