The bursting of the internet bubble was good for the computer industry.
Many of us didn’t like the medicine, but I can’t remember a single customer upset at the idea of paying $20,000 for computing infrastructure that used to cost them $100,000. The price compression came from open source software, and a move toward general purpose servers, and resulted in companies formerly making 65% gross profit on products (Sun among them) facing a new reality.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Since then, Sun’s built the biggest open source software business around (see this report for details), from platform software to application infrastructure (even a consumer product or two). Like Google and Microsoft, our products are both our ads and our revenue streams – our brands, and products, are recognized globally.
On Monday last week, you saw us continue to convert that brand awareness to revenue – with the introduction of a full line of MySQL optimized systems. By our estimates, there are about 11,000,000 MySQL users on earth – our new systems can triple their application performance. So we’ve made free evaluation units available to MySQL users (via our Try and Buy programs). Click the image to the right to listen to Marten Mickos and John Fowler talk about the opportunities ahead.
And that brings me to today. I was on a call last week with the Global CIO for one of our largest customers – one who was dramatically affected by the credit crisis. I was outlining where we were headed in open storage (a business that grew more than 150% for Sun last quarter), and he said, “One of your peers just told me flash was overhyped.” I asked him if the peer happened to work for a proprietary storage company. He protected his source, but I knew the answer (I probably knew the CEO, too).
The storage industry bears a remarkable resemblance to the proprietary server industry at the bursting of the
internet bubble – closed, highly profitable, frustrating customers with exorbitant charges. Plump, and ripe for change. Like a plum. Flash memory and open source file systems are about to change the landscape, and upend the industry – you read it here, first.
A notable philosopher once said, “You have to stop to change direction” – and for better or worse, I know a lot of customers stopping right now. They’re rethinking their future, and it’s into that thought process we’re introducing our newest open storage platforms, engineered with flash memory and open software to radically scale back what customers have to spend – while radically increasing performance, capability and ease of use.
Amplifying our Thumper product line, what started as the FISHWorks Project (Fully Integrated Software and Hardware) in Sun’s Labs, is now being unveiled – in the Sun Storage 7000 line of unified storage products.
Now, storing data on a disk is fairly straightforward. But administering large pools of fully replicated data, diagnosing problems on production systems, seamlessly dealing with capacity planning and disk failures, spanning every protocol known to man – all without draining your budget with antediluvian license keys and proprietary hardware – those are very high value problems to solve.
And those are exactly the problems we’ve solved.
The 7000 class systems take about five minutes to set up and provision (yes, five), and we’ve eliminated almost all the complexity around volume administration and drive failure (remember, ZFS technology is at the core). The 7000 systems are driven by the most scalable, powerful, open storage microcode in the industry: the OpenSolaris kernel. DTrace analytics provide a real-time lens into production systems – to understand performance, workloads, and help make live capacity-planning decisions (click picture at left for a sample control panel). The systems come bundled with a full suite of protocol, data management and availability features – built into the system without incremental fees or license keys.
For the geeks among you, we’ve turbocharged ZFS with Hybrid Storage Pools. Hybrid storage pools allow ZFS to optimize storage performance by spreading data out across DRAM, read or write optimized flash memory (they’re not the same thing, after all), and very lower power commodity disks. The net result is a massive speedup in storage performance, with an equivalently massive drop in power consumption, all managed transparently – applications will just run faster. Much, much faster. For a full set of technical videos/specs, go here.
Storage customers and administrators are about to experience a radical improvement to their quality of life – all without pharmaceutical intervention. And as the price of flash memory continues to plummet, it’s only going to get better.
But you have to stop to change direction.
Try out a 7000 free of charge – just go to our Try and Buy page, select a configuration, and give one a whirl.
And as we did to kick start awareness of our Niagara systems, for those capable or interested, write a blog or publish a review (use the tag “fishworks”) – we’ll select (at our sole discretion) from those we see, and give a few 7000’s away to those with the most valuable/constructive comments. All reviews are eligible (good and bad).
A little bit of history here, too.