I can certainly understand that Sun's products need vim. But is vigor a vi variant I've not seen?
Sun Microsystems is trying to inject some much needed vim and vigor into its storage business by dosing the operation with extra cc's of open-source therapy. The vendor today is introducing three new "Open Storage" arrays to its catalogue and giving its storage-heavy X4500 server — Thumper — a hardware refresh. Its new arrays …
I thought to qualify as an array a storage device had to have some form of built-in controller that took care of RAID etc., whereas these devices need a RAID adapter in the host server to do all the clever stuff. As the Sun geezer admitted, these are just SAS JBODs, a slightly more modern version of the ancient art of daisy-chaining SCSI JBODs off the back of old servers. And though they do have high density, what happens when a disk in one of the drawers fails, do you have to stop the whole rack to open the drawer to swap out one disk, or do you have to risk jarring all the disks in the drawer?
I have experience with the x4500 and there is no issue with sliding the x4500 out while it is running and removing one bad disk. It has a sturdy set of rails and nicely built cable management arm.
In our situation we use ZFS with iSCSI and ZFS with SAMBA, in a mostly Windows environment. I don't think anyone can get a raid card with the storage features of the latest version of Solaris 10. However, there are many ways one can get a full featured SAN without a single RAID card.
Here's a a totally awesome Linux freebie: http://www.openfiler.com/
SANs and NASs today, raid cards optional.
An array is just a arrangement of objects, which is what these boxes are. The whole point is they are dumb as they are designed to work in conjunction with everyones favourite (including your own I believe) filesystem/volume manager; ZFS.
If you want intelligence in hardware you are free to add your own controller - that's the open part.
The 'Thumper' form factor J4500 is super high density with the trade-off being fail in place until an outage can be arranged - Same as the X4500/X4540. If, for your particular deployment that is unacceptable there is always the J4200/J4400.
One thing you're missing Matt is that these arrays are best shipped with Solaris and ZFS (although they do come with the option of a SAS hardware raid card. ZFS would be my preference however. It gives you single and dual parity raid, hot spares, error and integrity checking, replication, snapshots and effectively unlimited storage.
Not bad for a piece of software you can download for free, and worth checking out on the Sun or OpenSolaris website.
On the Thumper, swopping drives can indeed be done on the fly. Just slide the Thumper forward, pop the hood and replace the drive and caddy. You'll want to make sure your rack is secure before sliding it out though, at over 70kg's this isn't something you want falling on you.
We had a good play with one 9 months ago on Sun's free 60 day trial offer. Haven't bought one yet, but it's only a matter of time.