So Sun has finally rolled out their Fishworks systems. I've been waiting for these to show up for a long time. The idea is perfect and long overdue: combining Solaris storage features like ZFS and the new CIFS stack with commodity x86 hardware, and of course Solaris itself, and packaging that all into a real storage system. As a Solaris enthusiast, I'm happy to see all this stuff in a mature form. As a programmer with an interest in performance analysis and visualization, I'm insanely jealous of the analytics interface. :) But most of all, as a system administrator, I'm squarely in the target audience for this thing as a product. Not only do I run a heterogeneous NAS-centric environment, I run it on a NetApp filer cluster. And although the Fishworks team has avoided saying so in so many words (on their blogs, anyway), these boxes are designed to be NetApp killers.
As it happens, at $WORK, our current storage infrastructure is about due for a refresh, and we've been looking very hard at the NetApp FAS2050. This has occasioned a lot of performance analysis (or attempts at it) on the existing filers, and a lot of thinking about what I'd like to see in a storage system and how NetApp's lineup relates to that. The new Sun gear isn't quite a no-brainer, but it means I'll be doing a close evaluation of both systems and seeing how they stack up. There are a lot of questions to answer, on both sides. For instance: how much of a difference does it make having all the software features be part of the appliance? What kind of performance difference is there between a storage box with a 2.2 GHz Mobile Celeron and one with quad-core Opterons? (Sorry NetApp.) On the other side of the coin, how hard will it be to give up SnapDrive, SnapManager for SQL, and all the other nice NetApp integration bits? And how much pain will there be, going from a nice mature platform like Data ONTAP to Version 1.0 of the Fishworks stack?
I've already got a VMware image of the Fishworks system up and running, so I'll use that for an initial point of comparison. Obviously it won't tell me much about performance, but I'll be able to see what the software stack is like, and test just about everything but clustering. Stay tuned.