Monthly archives: July, 2006

New low-end Sun x64 servers soon?

A recent update to Sun’s entry-level server warranty matrix lists two new mystery servers – The X2100 M2 and the X2200 M2.

I’ll speculate here… I bet that the X2100 M2 is an updated X2100 with iLOM rather than the underwhelming SMDC option card. I can’t think of what the X2200 M2 is. There has never been an X2200. Perhaps this is a X2100 M2 with 4 SATA drive slots, based on the chassis used for the StorageTek 5800? Hopefully the release date for these machines is near and we’ll find out soon…

UPDATE: It seems that as of 1835 EST 7/31/2006 Sun has removed all references to the aforementioned models. But if you look at the page source the table rows which contained the mentions of the X2100 M2 and X2200 M2 are merely commented out, so just right-click, View Source, and search for “X2100 M2”. Looks like it was one of those pre-release site prep “oopsies” that tend to happen. I hope we’ll see the official word soon.


New server clues

UPDATE 2: Phillip Fayers provides some more detail and thoughts on these pending servers, apparently code-named “Leo” and “Taurus”, with a workstation named “Munich”. These names make sense as the original X2100 was code-named “Aquarius” (which means either a zodiac or constellation-themed naming scheme.)

Making OpenSolaris into a storage appliance OS

With Sun’s recent release of their X4500 “Thumper” server which can be decked-out with up to 48 500GB SATA2 hard drives and two dual-core AMD Opteron CPUs and comes with quad gigabit ethernet, a new albeit currently infantile era of flexible storage platform has been born. Combined with the storage management capabilities of the Solaris 10 and a OpenSolaris-based OS, this unit can give pause to makers of the traditional RAID array or NAS appliance.

Reflecting on this, there are still just a few missing pieces of the puzzle that would make this box the Swiss Army Knife of data storage. At the same time, many formerly missing pieces are now in place. Let’s review:

What we have:

  • Solaris 10 / OpenSolaris, with:
  • ZFS – this represents the One True marriage of the disk layer and the data layer. It brings us what we’ve been missing (whether we knew it or not) in the area of hardware abstraction and volume management for the past 10 years, and so many other products (SVM, Vertias VM/FS) were close to but never crossed the finish line
  • Leadville – This is the Solaris fibre channel driver stack. High-performance and multi-pathing.
  • iSCSI Initiator – One of the best. In these times where FC switch ports cost waaay more than even gig-e switch ports, and FC HBAs still cost more than they should, mounting remote drives over iSCSI is the way to go
  • NFS server/client – pick your version. Any one of those that you pick is the best implementation of it in the industry, bar none.
  • SMB – Serve your data out with the flexible and familiar Samba server.

But, as I mentioned, I feel some important components are still missing:

  • A FCP Target and iSCSI Target server – Having either or both is completely neccessary in order to make a box such as the X4500 into a real contender with the NetApps and EMCs of the world. Now, the latter is already being worked on. It is said that the former can be a component of the latter. Work on this is promising, but it still needs time to mature.
  • And the last – and the main reason why I’m writing this post – an integrated CLI and Web UI that’s storage-oriented and can bind all those mentioned parts together into a flexible, intuitive storage configurator.

Why? As awesome as Solaris is and with the large number of options it provides, a person still has to spend quite a bit of quality time with this OS to learn the ins and outs regarding attaining a desired storage result. Mucking with a plethora of commands, this can be daunting. Think about NetApp’s CLI or Symcli. It shoud be easy. Point-and-click easy, if possible. So I’m proposing a project called Solaris Integrated Storage Commander.

My goal with this is to take all those underlying storage-related subsystems of Solaris (ZFS, format(1m), fcinfo(1m), cfgadm(1m), Samba, NFS, and so on) and abstract them into one consistent CLI and corresponding web UI. I’ve begun to sketch out some flow routines, and perhaps in the coming days I’ll put up a project page for SISC and refine the scope.

By the way, I would like to see SISC flexible enough to be of use on Thumpers as well as on the home-built system with a bunch of firewire or SATA drives plugged into it. Powerful storage for the everyperson.

Disabling Solaris kernel modules in GRUB

I had a situation today with a Dell PowerEdge 1750 where my attempt to load Solaris 10 06/06 on it failed miserably. Using Jumpstart, I attempted to install the box per the normal routine but this one server kept panicing in the cadp160 driver. This driver is for the Adaptec 39160 HBA PCI card that is on this system to connect it to a Dell PowerVault. This driver reliably crashed in cadp160:SCSIInitialize() at every boot attempt.

Since the system disk on this PE1750 was off the on-board LSI Fusion MPT controller, I figured I should just get the box built first and figure out the problems with the Adaptec driver later. But how do I tell the Solaris kernel to not load the Adaptec driver to avoid the inevitable panic? I just can’t edit /etc/system in this netboot case. A bit of searching and asking on #opensolaris revealed a not-too-well documented kernel argument:-B disable-[driver name]=true

So in this case I editted the GRUB boot loader and added disable-cadp160=true to the list of arguments supplied to kernel/unix. Boom. The kernel displayed a message alerting me to the fact that cadp160 wasn’t being loaded and went on its merry way to a full boot and install.

[tags]solaris, opensolaris[/tags]

New ambient dub mix is up.

See Mix 04 on my mixes page for details.