Sun plans open source network attached storage

Sun is planning to announce a new strategy around network attached storage (Nas) that is meant to be an open source competitor to NetApp and Microsoft, according to industry sources.

Sun Microsystems is planning an announcement next week on a new strategy for open source network attached storage (Nas), according to industry insiders.

The initiative, that some say is code-named FISH for fully integrated software and hardware, will feature Nas on servers running Solaris. It will include the ZFS file system and another open source performance-monitoring tool called DTrace. The goal is to generate interest in Sun's NAS storage products in the open source community where Java has already been a success.

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Also opened to developers, according to sources, will be code belonging to other Sun storage applications, including Sun StorEdge Instant Image snapshot software.

Sun officials have briefed analysts over the last week on the goal of making open source Nas packages the preferred platform for software developers making appliances. The plan is to use the package to drive storage hardware sales, according to those in the know.

Experts are split on the ultimate direction of the strategy. Some sources familiar with the project speculate the package is meant to create an open source competitor for Microsoft's Windows Storage Server products, which have been boxed up by storage vendors, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell into small business Nas products.

Others said the idea is to compete with Network Appliance (NetApp) proprietary Nas operating system, Data OnTap, with an open source equivalent.

"It's all about the famous ecosystem with Jonathan [Schwartz] -- this is his version of it for storage," said an industry analyst speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sun officials confirmed there is an announcement slated for next week, but declined comment as to its subject. The new Nas plan would be in line with a recent reorganization of Sun's engineering resources. Last week, the company moved its server-based NAS product lines, which include the Thumper X4500 direct attached storage product and the Honeycomb content-addressed storage archive product, under John Fowler in the systems business.

Nigel Dessau, senior vice president of storage marketing and business operations at Sun, also hinted about a new Nas product at the time of that announcement. "We're preparing a new Nas campaign," Dessau said, referring to it as NAS 2.0. According to Dessau, Sun is planning to develop products using an "open source Nas stack based on general purpose hardware," namely Sun SPARC servers running Solaris.

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