Storage utility for the Net

Ng Kia Chiang, director of Product Sales at Sun Microsystems, shares with us the importance Sun has placed on storage interoperability.

The Internet gave us a glimpse of what it means to plug PCs into the network and presto! We now have a data utility from any phone line. This is the third article in a series of one-to-one interviews with storage vendors on the issues of storage area networks and storage interoperability.

But did you know where and how storage is used to support the Net? Or that you dynamically re-arrange data storage to meet network demand without re-hosting and mirroring?

Taking this concept further, Sun Microsystems, along with its partners, are betting that their newly-created Jiro can be used as a set of federated Java Beans to provide a centralized and interchangeable storage components for a comprehensive Grid-based data utility for the Net.

"Data interoperability of various storage components is of paramount importance so that all can be accessed like a utility," said Ng Kia Chiang, Product Sales director at Sun Microsystems Asia South. "These technologies enable us to seamlessly fit scalable storage solutions to customers' existing infrastructure without exorbitant upfront cost."

"Our integrated storage stack ensures no forklift changes to customer's existing setup in a "Pay-As-You-Need" type of scalability," Ng claimed.

Given that companies like EMC have been up close to applications, Ng does not see this type of alliance as being effective.

"EMC is a company with a locked-in embedded architecture and they are not a storage component provider and definitely not an end-to-end systems company. EMC's alliance is selective and not an effective one as EMC's storage array architecture is old and worn out, and their embedded proprietary software will soon be overshadowed by richer, cost effective and open domain storage players," Ng claimed.

"Our underlying storage software technology does not lock in customers to any brand unlike what is currently being offered by others in the industry," he further claimed.

This view was predictably refuted by EMC. Paul Rath, its South Asia general manager, said that EMC makes no apologies for being totally focused on information storage.

On Sun's claims that EMC's architecture is aged, Rath emphasized on the need for continuity and backward compatibility. "The issue is really about stability and the use of the latest and greatest technology. Our customers see the benefits of the latest technology in the new products we build today but they are also able to continue to use older EMC systems within their environments."

EMC has invested US$2 billion in interoperability testing, ensuring that their information storage solutions are interoperable with leading server vendor platforms, operating systems, network elements, other storage software products and other components of the infrastructure such as switches, hubs and tape systems, the company claimed.

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