Sun has quietly launched its Honeycomb storage product through a partner, Kodak, although it is not formally available and still listed as a "project" on the Sun site.

Sun's StorageTek 5800 , known as Honeycomb, will be used by Sun's OEM partner, Kodak, for a healthcare product. Kodak's CARESTREAM product is for Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) in the medical market.


Sun HoneycombSun calls the 5800 an application-aware programmable storage product. It cannot be used on its own but must be coupled with application software that uses either Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) or an application programming interface (API) to reference the data objects stored on it.

The system uses a symmetric cluster of 8 or 16 nodes, with a management server; each node having four 500GB Serial ATA (SATA) drives and an embedded Opteron 993 server. This makes maximum capacity 16 or 32TB respectively. The nodes are connected by Gigabit Ethernet, and two load balancing servers ensure that the cluster load is spread evenly.

The 5800 runs Solaris 10 and data (files) are stored as fragments spread across the nodes with associated system-defined and user-defined metadata. There is no internal file system.

System metadata includes creation date, data length, has value and so forth. Examples of user metadata items could include patient name, doctor’s name, reason for visit, deductible, medical record number and insurance company. The on-board embedded server would be used to search stored objects for matches against selected metadata items and values. This offloads application servers.

Sun states that the 5800 is self-healing and can cope with multiple simultaneous component failures without the need for immediate servicing. Reed-Solomon 5+2 encoding is used to split objects into five data fragments and two parity fragments, spread across both disks and nodes to minimise loss through component failure. The system can cope with the loss of up to two missing data or parity fragments, similar to RAID 6.

Sun doesn't say but that presumably means that up to two nodes could fail before the 5800 grinds to a halt.

EMC's Centera design also uses a redundant array of independent nodes with one Intel processor for each tray of four SATA disk drives. Centera is also found in PACS applications, for example, a Kodak one. The Kodak 5800 PACS product is expected to be available in 2007. No pricing information is available.

Read more on this story here.