Sun's "Thor" finds a new green friend

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A startup called greenBytes emerged from stealth today, bringing with it modifications to Sun Microsystems’ ZFS file system that will add power-saving features to the SunFire X4540 “Thor” storage server.

greenBytes calls its proprietary enhancements to the file system ZFS+. The software bundles in deduplication, inline compression, power management using disk drives’ native power interfaces. Drive spin-down is beginning to be a checklist item as big vendors like EMC and HDS have been adding what was once a bleeding-edge feature offered by startups into their established arrays. However, greenBytes also claims that its enhancements to ZFS store data heuristically on the smallest number of disks possible, freeing up more drives to be put into a “sleepy” spun-down state. (Interesting…Sun had similar things to say about ZFS non-plus when it came to the layout of data for solid-state disks.)

This is part of Sun’s efforts to open up its storage technology to developers, in the hopes of exactly this kind of product development. I’ve talked to some users at big companies who are using Thumper for disk-based backup directly attached to (mostly Symantec NetBackup media servers), but most of them find the product appealing because of its high-density direct-attached hardware, not necessarily for its software features. As Dave Raffo covered for the Soup last week, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz is painting a cheery picture of the future for open-source storage, but so far the revenue and market share juries are still out.

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