Jonathan gives us an early look at Thumper

11 Jul '06 - 04:41 by benr

I think I'm in love.

Thumper saves me from myself actually. I recently requested a quote on a Rackable storage box:

Suprisingly, Rackable isn't as cheap as it would seem, and in fact Thumper may come in lower in cost than what Rackable can offer, with a lot more capability.

As a storage guy, Jonathan is right on target with his latest blog entry.

In fact... I have a confession to make. I've felt like a real looser for some time now. I love my Sun systems, their reliability, support, and functionality. But vendors, particularly vendors pushing software aimed at the Linux market, make me feel like a dolt for not buying cheap Taiwan specials (ie: SuperMicro). Data centers are building out with flavor of the month servers to meet demand at rock bottom prices but I just can't bring myself to endure the pain. When you buy 500 systems you get special treatment. When you buy 2, your just a quick buck. Sun's new offerings are going to bridge a big gap between big capacity and low cost. Finally I'll have the support, the power, and the bredth of X86 solutions I crave.

Jonathan is right. For years the Linux crowd was turning its nose up at companies like F5, CheckPoint, and even Cisco. The ASIC driven boxes were replaced with Open Source software on Linux boxes. Now, thats all good and well for some people, but I want to sleep (or blog) at night, not coddle my peicemeal load balancer. But those days are in large part over. Software that was tempermental and experimental 6 years ago is looking pretty solid and trusted today.

Most shockingly, actually, is the number of storage vendors who aren't using ASIC but simply X86 boxes running a commonly available OS (eCos, Linux, BSD, etc). 3Par is done this way, Equalogic is, Compellent is, and several others. This is shocking to me... I'm still trying to get over this idea that you don't need a custom built ASIC to push big data real fast. Which turns my eyes to OpenSolaris of course. iSCSI target implementation, ZFS, world class NFS, plus all the tools to really manage storage and you've got a really appealing platform. I'm a smart guy, why am I paying massive overheads for someone else to build my storage platform when I've already got all the bits I need! Enter Thumper!

So... I'm excited. And I think this announcement will open a lot of eyes to a larger world of possibility.

- - C O M M E N T S - -

PLEASE! If you care about the craft of writing PLEASE use a spellchecker. Every time I see loser spelt with a superfluous ‘O’ I want to punch something! You see it all the time on Slashdot and there is no excuse for it!

Tom, Dick or Harry - 11 July '06 - 06:05

“your just a quick buck” != “You are just a quick buck” = “You’re just a quick buck”.

Grammar is just as important!

Tom (not Dick, nor Harry) - 11 July '06 - 08:14

oh calm down…there are bigger things to worry about. You’ll get over it eventually.

tamr - 11 July '06 - 10:26

I see it’s in the Try n Buy program…very nice.

Gimlet (URL) - 11 July '06 - 12:24

Not bad but would this be a good replacement for a SAN/NAS im not sure about NFS ?

Kashif - 11 July '06 - 12:49

4500 – top-loading drives in a rackmount server? What are they thinking?

robs - 11 July '06 - 13:10

Here’s some more:

Bob (Email) - 11 July '06 - 13:22

What were they thinking? Quite a lot – huge density because of rackspace/colo costs, and a sliderail operated tray to get at the drives. Brilliant.

Shame the webinar today sucked on bandwidth, and they put the products up on the website before the “Buy It” section works – looks real amateur, watch the stock slip a little bit more… as usual great product, abysmal market execution.

Wally - 11 July '06 - 14:10

Sooo…who’s going to be the first to set up a 48-way mirrored boot disk?

AC - 11 July '06 - 15:15

So, can you change drives with the x4500 without powering down the unit?

robs - 11 July '06 - 18:38

Most shockingly, actually, is the number of storage vendors who aren’t using ASIC but simply X86 boxes running a commonly available OS (eCos, Linux, BSD, etc)

Isn’t Google in that bunch? They move a lot of data from what I hear.

William - 11 July '06 - 21:31

The biggest issues I see with using this box in a enterprise settings are.

If you want to serve out the space using iSCSI then the iSCSI target hasnt made it into Solaris 10u2 yet. You have to use opensolaris or solaris express. Which could be an issue for an enterprise environment.

If your going to be serving out the space via NFS or iSCSI then your going to want to patch the box occasionally to keep up to date. And you can’t patch without rebooting requiring downtime.

The dedicated san products come with multiple controllers and you can update the firmware in them and reboot them independently.
And you can hot swap controllers in case of hardware failure.

All of this is manageably for most environments. But you have to be aware of the limitations compared to a dedicated SAN solution.

Robert Cohen (Email) - 12 July '06 - 01:30

Yes, the drives are hot-swappable. (As are the fans and power supplies.)

David Carlton (Email) (URL) - 12 July '06 - 01:30

William: Google has their own inhouse storage solution, it works like this:

Google looks at a X86 server as being 2 things in one box, a computing resource (CPU/memory) and a storage resource (disk). They use these two diffrently. The use “Chunk Servers” to distribute data onto disks of the compute nodes, in effect doing something similar to RAID stripping against a group of servers, albeit with a 64MB block size. So you request data from a chunk server which in turn pulls blocks from the various servers containing 64MB chunks and returns the data. I think they actually write every chunk to 3 or more servers at one time for redundancy.

Its an interesting system actually, worthy of study. I’m sure you can search google (ironically) to learn more.

benr - 13 July '06 - 14:36

More info on GFS:


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