At work (client site) SUN made a presentation about their OpenStorage products (Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems) today.
From a technology point of view, the software side is nothing new to me. Using SSDs for zfs as a read-/write-cache is something we can do (partly) already since at least Solaris 10u6 (that is the lowest Solaris 10 version we have installed here, so I can not check quickly if the ZIL can be on a separate disk in previous versions of Solaris, but I think we have to wait until we updated to Solaris 10u8 until we can have the L2ARC on a separate disk) or in FreeBSD. All other nice ZFS features available in the OpenStorage web interface are also not surprising.
But the demonstration with the Storage Simulator impressed me. The interaction with Windows via CIFS makes the older version of files in snapshots available in Windows (I assume this is the Volume Shadow Copy feature of Windows), and the statistics available via DTrace in the web interface are also impressive. All this technology seems to be well integrated into an easy to use package for heterogeneous environments. If you would like to setup something like this by hand, you would need to have a lot of knowledge about a lot of stuff (and in the FreeBSD case, you would probably need to augment the kernel with additional DTrace probes to be able to get a similar granularity of the statistics), nothing a small company is willing to pay.
I know that I can get a lot of information with DTrace (from time to time I have some free cycles to extend the FreeBSD DTrace implementation with additional DTrace probes for the linuxulator), but what they did with DTrace in the OpenStorage software is great. If you try to do this at home yourself, you need some time to implement something like this (I do not think you can take the DTrace scripts and run them on FreeBSD, this will probably take some weeks until it works).
It is also the first time I see this new CIFS implementation from SUN in ZFS life in action. It looks well done. Integration with AD looks more easy than doing it by hand in Samba (at least from looking at the OpenStorage web interface). If we could get this in FreeBSD… it would rock!
The entire OpenStorage web interface looks usable. I think SUN has a product there which allows them to enter new markets. A product which they can sell to companies which did not buy something from SUN before (even Windows-only companies). I think even those Windows admins which never touch a command line interface (read: the low-level ones; not comparable at all with the really high-profile Windows admins of our client) could be able to get this up and running.
As it seems at the moment, our client will get a Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array for technology evaluation in the beginning of next year. Unfortunately the technology looks to easy to handle, so I assume I have to take care about more complex things when this machine arrives… 🙁