Oracle debuts updated Sun ZFS storage line

The company has integrated its enterprise software into its ZFS storage line, and has announced a range of new Sparc chips and Sun Ray thin clients
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Oracle has plugged its enterprise software into Sun's ZFS storage appliance line, which has also been updated with twice the storage capacity and three times the processing power.

The company unveiled the updated ZFS (Zettabyte File System) line on Monday at Oracle OpenWorld 2010 in San Francisco. A quartet of new storage appliances were launched — the Sun ZFS Storage 7120, 7320, 7420 and 7720 — alongside four new Sun Storage packages. The unified storage systems are aimed at handling data protection and consolidation for businesses using Oracle Database and Oracle Applications.

"The next-generation Sun ZFS Storage Appliance product line delivers more than two times the scale of the previous generation and increases integration with Oracle's business-critical applications," said Oracle's vice president of systems John Fowler in a statement.

The applications now tailored to work with the Sun-developed hybrid storage pool architecture in the ZFS systems are Oracle Applications, Fusion Middleware, Database, Solaris, Oracle Linux and Oracle VM.

The announcement sees Oracle building on the hardware it harvested in its January acquisition of Sun. At the 2010 OpenWorld conference, Oracle has emphasised its efforts to marry software and hardware technology in the development of its products, such as the Exalogic cloud machine.

"We are focused on providing co-engineered systems — Oracle hardware and software engineered to work together — to continually drive better performance, availability, security and management," said Fowler.

The new appliances build on the previous range launched by Sun in November 2008. At the time, Fowler, who was with Sun until its acquisition, described the machines as "the biggest thing to happen to storage in decades".

The new arrays offer storage capacity ranging from 12 terabytes for the 7120 with minimum specifications to 1.15 petabytes for the 7420 with the highest specifications. No additional software licences are required for the storage systems' bundled software, which includes Oracle's DTrace Analytics program for troubleshooting and performance optimisation.

The appliances all use ZFS, the 128-bit file system developed by Sun for the Solaris operating system in 2004. The system integrates features aimed at large storage capacities, and provides continuous integrity checking and automatic repair. ZFS also uses a virtual storage pool to reduce reliance on the underlying physical hardware.

On 10 September, NetApp announced that it had settled a lawsuit with Oracle over the ZFS file system. In the suit, which was originally launched against Sun, NetApp alleged that technology in ZFS infringed seven of its patents. In announcing the settlement, the company said that it would "collaborate" with Oracle in the future.

Also on Monday, Oracle introduced new Sparc systems and processors, and announced a new range of Sun Ray desktop virtualisation clients.

The new 16-core Sparc T3 processor, tailored to the Sparc server line, is a 40nm processor with 128 threads. It can support up to 128 separate virtualised domains as well as multiple, multithreaded on-chip Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The company also presented three upcoming Sparc servers that use the chip — the Sparc T3-1, T3-2 and T3-4 servers, which come with 16, 32 and 64 cores, respectively. The servers include on-chip encryption capabilities and built-in Oracle VM Server software for Sparc and Oracle Solaris Containers. Oracle did not provide a release date for the servers.

In addition, Oracle expanded its Sun Ray range with the launch of the Sun Ray 3 and Sun Ray 3i thin clients. The key difference between the two boxes is that the Sun Ray 3i incorporates a monitor, while the Sun Ray 3 must be plugged into a peripheral display device. Both will ship with five USB slots, one serial port and support for networking up to 1000Mbps, according to Oracle, which did not provide a release date.

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