Sun’s Honeycomb Hopes to Sweeten Storage


Research engineers at Sun Microsystems are creating a new storage
appliance
to help enterprises locate specific files within a large pool of data.


Sun is basing the network-attached storage machine
on
technology it calls Project Honeycomb, a cluster architecture that
uses new metadata and search tools to retrieve files in large storage systems much
more efficiently. Files could include e-mail attachments or medical
images,
such as x-rays.


Honeycomb senior project manager Mike Davis said the software/hardware
combination was created to help customers tap into millions of stored,
often
static files, spanning several terabytes . The product
can
be offered as a 3U (5.25 inch) standalone machine, or used as a
complement with other equipment in a data center.


Sun has recently decided to make Solaris the primary operating system, with
a potential for additional OS support a possibility. It is likely the
hardware would run AMD’s Opteron chips, of late the chip Sun chooses to
bring new products to bear. But Davis didn’t rule out the possibility
that
Honeycomb might run on Intel-based machines as well.


Although there is no set time frame for Honeycomb to become generally available,
Davis said his team feels some urgency because of the success of the
company’s
previous NAS machines, the StorEdge 5210 and 5310.


“They’re starting to ramp up and we want to make sure there’s not too
much
of a gap before we get to this next-generation, leapfrog-the-industry
kind
of thing,” Davis said. “We’re in the process of overlapping the two
roadmaps
and saying ‘What if we can put metadata and search into a generic NAS
box.'”


Honeycomb is in pre-beta test with select customers, whom Davis refused
to
name. He did say Honeycomb will not be ready in time for Sun’s next
quarterly announcements in February.


The idea of fast file return is becoming popular throughout the IT
industry.
Compliance regulations are placing stringent demands on enterprises,
which
in turn ask software and hardware vendors to make systems that help
them
rapidly call up files.


EMC , IBM , Sun offer storage
systems tailored to provide so-called information lifecycle management
(ILM)
strategies for businesses. EMC makes the Centera file system and IBM’s brand is called SAN File System storage software.


But Sun and IBM, whose researchers are working on improving search in middleware, are quickly warming up to the
notion
of providing fine-grained search in their information management
systems.


Davis said the industry seems to be heading
toward a convergence of storage and search.


“A lot of people are coming to the realization that large-scale storage
in
some ways is more of a database problem than a disk problem,” Davis
said.
“We want to give the customers choice. We want to give them the ability
to
see that capability intrinsically built into their storage systems.”

News Around the Web