The biggest problem we had...
...when we looked at Oracle storage wasn't the technology so much as it was the software, the packaging and to some extent, the marketing. As far as the marketing, the ZFS Storage Appliance IS a unified storage offering. You can add 8GB FC HBAs to the appliances and connect them to SAN fabric and provision LUNs on top of ZFS. You can provision LUNs through iSCSI, or you can provision network shares through NFS or CIFS. You know, kind of like NetApp with it's FAS heads. Those are pretty good, right? They should be bragging about their protocol support, 8Gb FCP, 1Gb/10Gb iSCSI, IP and RDMA over Infiniband, NFS, CIFS, HTTP, WebDAV, FTP, yeah, it does those.
The packaging problem that I see is the entry system, the 7120, doesn't support a cluster option. It's a single head system. But it supports 177TB of capacity. NetApp's FAS2220 entry system will grow up to 180TB, yet you get HA with the system. Those capacity levels call for HA and make them attractive to businesses who are outgrowing entry networked storage systems (QNAPs and DLINKs and junk). Sure, the FAS2220 doesn't support FC, but the FAS2240 does, and it's still cheaper than the 7120 as of the last series of quotes I received. If the 7120 were built on a shelf unit like the Supermicro two node units built into a chassis for HA with SAS-connected drives out front, I think they'd do better with this product.
In the midrange, the product starts looking a bit better, especially for Oracle shops cashing in on Hybrid Columnar Compression. It also does inline deduplication and compression, snaps and clones, local and remote replication, SSD read/write acceleration, phone home capability, various RAID options along with data/metadata checksum verification, etc. High availability is an option but it's a no-brainer when you're talking about 432TB of data, at least in my opinion. Two nodes should offer enough front end ports and performance to handle that kind of capacity, so this one seems to hit a sweet spot.
In the high end it stumbles again with a packaging problem, as it's peers are scaling up and out it is still stuck at two nodes. 2.6PB is a lot of disk for two nodes to keep up with, especially with all the bells and whistles turned on and slamming the system with heavy workload. It certainly has the capacity for big workloads.
Then there is the software problem. You could do quite well with Linux, Windows, and VMware integration tools for path management on block storage and snapshot/backup utilities with application awareness. But aside from the Oracle Snap Management Utility, I can't find anything else that ties it in to anything else. DTrace looks pretty and the mobile app is neat. If they would open their focus and develop tools for more systems, the appeal would grow.
They have a potentially good product with the ZFS Storage Appliance. This should be their take-aways:
- Rebrand it as an Oracle Unified Storage Appliance built on ZFS technology, make some noise about its protocol support;
- Develop more tools and integration pieces with other OSes and applications (why not at least make a good storage product to sell into the MSSQL and DB2 shops?);
- Re-engineer the low end system to do HA in a single shelf (I'm sure SUN can put together a Supermicro-like two node chassis with SAS-connected disks out front);
- Scale out the high end model to support more controllers;
- Add all- or mostly-SSD options to the mix.
Lots of folks out there think ZFS is the future. Lots of folks want a big name attached to their mission-critical storage when things go pear-shaped as opposed to buying a "validated design" based on whitebox hardware from other, smaller ZFS vendors. Oracle has the opportunity to really build something here if they would simply broaden their horizons and expand their focus. But I don't think they will, they want you to buy engineered systems and they want you to use them to store your data in their database. There's nothing wrong with that, but their storage sales won't be booming anytime soon with that approach. Until they do turn it around, people looking for an all-in-one HA storage array with some space-saving features and broad protocol and application support will continue to buy NetApp.