In its latest quarterly product annoucement Sun announced a NAS box, a midrange array, and confirmed it will supply Hitachi Data Systems' new highend array. There was also a content announcement that we'll cover separately.

Sun has re-entered the NAS market with its StorEdge 5210 system, the first of a family of NAS boxes. This one is aimed at workgroups and small departments. So it's easy to spec out a family of three boxes: a mid-range NAS; and a top-end product. There could be more. Sun itself says it is the first member of its StorEdge 5000 file appliance family.

What's good about it?

This rack shelf unit can be plugged in and set up in minutes. Management is via a web-based GUI. Network connection is via Ethernet, up to 1000BaseT with two ports. Supported file access protocols are CIFS and SMB for Windows, NetBIOS, NFS v2 and v3 for Unix/Linux, and FTP. We note neither Novell NetWare nor Apple protocols are supported. Nothing special here.

It scales up to 2.6TB capacity (although a Sun presentation slide mentions 6TB). Basic capacity is six UltraSCSI 160 10,000rpm 146GB disks, internally-mounted, totalling 876GB. There can be an expansion unit added supporting 12 more drives, totalling an additional 1752GB. Add two more expansion units and we get to 42 drives and a 6TB total - the numbers on Sun's slide.

There is a point-in-time copy feature called StorEdge Checkpoint for data protection.

The 5210 is based on an Intel Xeon 3.06GHz CPU running a 'storage-optimized operating system', apparently licensed from Procom. A multi-year product licensing agreement was signed by Sun and Procom in April this year. Procom's NetFORCE OS 4.2 offers a combined NAS and SAN access capability: ' Procom's DUET-enabled filers truly support both file-level data access, where a number of hosts access shared data, and block-level access where a set of data is accessed by a single host or application server. Traditional NAS implementations fall short on the compatibility that is required from some applications that require block-level access.' Checkpoint appears to be different from this.

We might imagine a forthcoming Sun NAS product announcement will include DUET. At present the 5210 is a basic and competent NAS box but doesn't have anything extra special. Sun compares it to NetApp's FAS 250 (with 14 drives and 2TB capacity). NetApp's FAS 270 has 42 drives ands 6TB - the numbers on Sun's chart for the 5210. Curious. NetApp also has a twin-controller version of the this called the FAS270C.

We'll possibly see a 52xx with 6TB and a twin-Xeon 52xx shortly.

Mid-range array
The 6920 system uses technology Sun gained with its Pirus Networks acquistion in 2002. This included virtualisation technology in switches. The 6920 is a full size rack system with a crossbar fabric internal architecture. Sun says this enables scaling in capacity, connectivity and performance.

There can be up to 28 Fibre Channel ports and up to 448 drives. There can be up to 16 CPUs.

There are three base unit flavours of 6920 offering, respectively, 4TB, 8.2TB and 16.4TB. Two expansion cabinets are available for each base unit and these take maximum capacity up to 16.1TB, 32.7TB and 65.4TB respectively.

Drives can be 36GB 15,000rpm, 73GB 10,000 or 15,000rpm, or 146GB 10,000rpm (the 5210 drives). Storage in the array is virtualised into a single pool. The pool can be sub-divided - into segmented storage domains - to provide dedicated storage with quality of service levels for different applications. Applications are described by storage profiles and the 6920 has 16 pre-tested profiles for things such as Oracle databases.

Sun compares the 6920 to EMC's CLARiiON CX700 and says the 6920 has more scalability. It also has an SPC-1 IOPS benchmark rating of 48,646.62 and $10.73 per SPC-1 IOPS rating. This is rather better than IBM's FASt900 and HP's EVA 5000 2C12D.

Sun is positioning the 6920 as a SAN array and will bring out heterogeneous storage attachment to it via a firmware release in the first half of next year. That is going to support EMC CLARiiONs, HP EVAs, HDS 9500s and LSI Logic (Engenio) arrays.

The 6920 is an interesting box which has the potential of enabling Sun to sell it into its customer base with existing EMC CLARiiONs and other arrays and have the 6920 manage or work with them. Good marketing move.

High-end array
The StorEdge 9990 is the new high-end Hitachi Data Systems array which we described here and here.

Sun also announced an updated StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager product for storage resource management. It supports heterogeneous SANs. More is coming in a future release with file system products to provide an Information Lifecycle management infrastructure. There was also mention of a pay-for-use utility computing charging scheme.

All in all Sun delivered a lot of storage functionality and products. The 5210 is a basis for future NAS boxes heading towards enterprise-class features and NAS/SAN convergence. The 6920 has the promise of working with Sun customers' existing EMC kit and the 9990 is a leading top-end array. Sun is currently shining strongly on the storage arena.