Setting up Sun Unified Storage 7000 Simulator

Nothing to stimulate you like a simulator!! I know it sounds corny but what the heck. The Sun Unified Storage simulator did stimulate my interest and I found the going good. So here is my story of how to setup the Sun Unified Storage simulator and work with it.

I have been thinking of installing some simulator on my system and working with it. As it generally happens, you keep postponing it in small steps and before you know the idea has vanished from your mind.  Luckily for me, I had registered myself in the Sun site for information and they sent a mail to me asking me to download the simulator. I had some time on my hands and it was too tempting an offer to resist.

First things first. In order to download this simulator, you need to register yourself at the Sun site.  Then you get access to download the Sun Unified Storage simulator. The simulator zip file is around 370MB and it expands close to 2.5 GB.  You better have enough space on your hard disk for this.  You can get the simulator at this site Scroll down to find the simulator.

What do you need to run this simulator? I installed this simulator on my laptop, which is Core 2 Duo system with 2GB RAM running Windows XP SP3. So I guess if you have this or something better,  it should work. For the simulator to work, you also need VMware Player on your system. If you don’t have one, you can download it free of cost from the VMware site.  In essence, to make your simulator work on Windows XP, you need to download the VMware Player and you need to download the Sun Unified Storage Simulator.

The Sun Unified Storage Simulator is a virtual appliance, which means you don’t need anything else with it. The steps to follow to install the Storage Simulator are simple:

  1. Download the simulator zip file from the Sun site
  2. Unzip this file. In the extracted files, there will be a uni.vmx file
  3. Now start your VMplayer and select the uni.vmx file
  4. The installation starts now. Have patience

The next steps are from the Sun site:

“When the simulator initially boots you will be prompted for some basic network settings (this is exactly the same as if you were using an actual 7110, 7210 or 7410). Many of these should be filled in for you. Here are some tips if you’re unsure how to fill in any of the required fields:

  • Host Name: Any name you want.
  • DNS Domain: “localdomain”
  • Default Router: The same as the IP address, but put 1 as the final octet.
  • DNS Server: The same as the IP address, but put 1 as the final octet.
  • Password: Whatever you want.

After you enter this information, wait until the screen provides you with a URL to use for subsequent configuration and administration. Use the version of the URL with the IP address (for example, https://192.168.56.3:215/) rather than the host name in your web browser to complete appliance configuration”

What the above steps do is to setup the virtual simulator on your system. This also provides an IP address to the Storage simulator. Once that is done, you see a login prompt on your VMware player. This would probably be the same if you are using the actual hardware. At this point in time you have two options:

  • Login with ‘root’ as the user name and the password you have entered during the setup time and start using the CLI  (or)
  • Use the Web and the GUI provided there to manage the simulator

Though I love Unix and the CLIs generally, I decided to go ahead and try the web. You can access the web gui by typing in the link given during the setup phase. It will be something like <some ip address>:215/ (I got 192.168.22.128:215 as my address. It can be different for you.) Once you type this in your browser you will get the login screen.

The Sun Unified System has lot of features and you can test them using the simulator. There are features like replication, compression, snapshots, analytics etc. My initial idea was to do the simplest possible thing. Create a LUN and create a filesystem and export it. Then use this LUN or Filesystem. So I have not yet checked the other features.

The Sun Unified Storage allows you to use NFS, CIFS and iSCSI. In the GUI, on the top you have a tab called ‘Shares’. This allows you to create shares of the type you want. Shares can be grouped together as projects, making it easy to administer shares of the same kind. Under ‘Shares’ you have the Filesystem and the LUN tabs. If you want to use NFS or CIFS, you need to create that filesystem using the Filesystem tab. If you want to use iSCSI, you can just create a LUN using the LUN tab.

I first created a filesystem and exported it. It was easy seeing it over Windows. I just gave the path and it immediately saw the share. I then wanted to see the same share via Linux. I started another VMplayer with Ubuntu virtual machine running it. Initially I had a few hiccups since the portmapper package is not installed as a default on my system. My friend Sagar sent me a link on the packages required on Ubuntu to make NFS work. (The Ubuntu link here.) Once I installed the required packages and configured the system, I could immediately mount the share and copy some files into it.

The next step was to try accessing some LUNs via iSCSI. I don’t have an iSCSI HBA so I had to use the Software Initiator. I downloaded the Software Initiator from the Microsoft site and I also downloaded the documentation related to it. (I downloaded the initiator which ends with -x86fre.exe) The funny part is that the software and the document are of almost same size!! The download and installation happen fast. No reboot is required. Once installed, you can see the iSCSI software initiator under ‘Programs’. The iSCSI initiator works as a GUI and a CLI is also provided. In case you are just testing, the GUI should do fine.

Once you have downloaded the Software Initiator, you need to now go to the simulator and create a LUN. (Since you will expose this as a iSCSI target you should not create a filesystem.) You should go into the Protocols tab in the simulator to say that iSCSI protocol needs to be used and allow access for all initiators. Once this is done, get back to Windows and open the iSCSI initiator GUI. In this GUI:

  • Provide the IP address of simulator under the ‘Discovery’ tab.
  • The exposed LUNs will be automatically discovered and shown to you in the ‘Targets’ tab
  • Select each of the targets and press the ‘Login’ button. This will ensure you are now connected to the LUN

Once these steps are done, the disks will be visible in ‘Disk Management’ (under ‘Computer Management’) These are raw disks, which you can initialize and partition. I created two LUNs of 0.5GB each. I was able to see them using iSCSI and was able to initialize and partition them.

Thus ended my two days tryst with Sun Unified Storage Simulator.  I must say I am impressed with this simulator. Very easy to install and very easy to configure and use. I will probably try out the other features soon and will writeup about them if I do. I am now raring to go and try other Storage simulators. I know Celerra simulator exists but I am not sure if it is open. NetApp has a simulator but it for NetApp client only I think.

If you have the time, do try out the Sun Simulator. You can get the installation and configuration documents at this site My thanks are due to Chris M Evans, who provided me with the link to the documents when I asked him. (The document also comes a part of the simulator. You can press the ‘Help’ tab in the simulator to get the complete document. ) Chris Evans (@chrismevans) , who blogs as Storage Architect, has written a series of posts on Sun Unified Storage. You can check out those articles at The Storage Architect blog.

Hope this was useful and hope it makes at a few of you to wake up from your slumber and try something 🙂

What's Up in 2010 Doc?

Nothing beats the thrill of trying to predict how the future would be. This is a very enjoyable exercise, provided, like the stock market analysts, you quickly forget what you said earlier. I mean, who is going to check out the coming Dec as to what you said in Jan? The best analysts know this fact very well and hence they never shy away from predicting the future.  I am not exactly going to predict how things will be in the Storage world this year but just mull on what the scenario would be like.

Last year saw Data Deduplication getting fully mainstream, with every vendor having a Dedupe product. There are a quite a few Dedupe products now in the market but Source Dedupe integrated into the backup product and Target Dedupe, either Appliance Based or VTL will be the key products. We will need to wait and watch if Primary Dedupe makes much headway. There will always be products like Content Aware Dedupe but whether they will be accepted as a mainstream products or whether they will be used more as a solution for particular problem needs to be seen. My take is that it will be more of the latter.

2009 also saw a lot of discussion and some activity about Solid State Drives (SSDs) with EMC thumping its chest for being the first off the block and slowly other vendors offering SSDs as well. By the end of the year, with STEC’s, the company which manufactures these SSDs, results not being very rosy, there were questions raised about how quickly SSDs were being adopted in the industry. Companies like 3Par offered the technology in their array as an alternative to using SSDs. FCOE was discussed quite a bit but that is all that happened. Thin provisioning, Cloud Computing and Storage Virtualization were topics which were discussed heatedly.

The year 2009 did see lot of industry action which kept the vendors, analysts, bloggers and twitters happy. EMC’s acquisition of Data Domain was the biggest news by a mile. HP buying 3Com (people were predicting that HP would buy Brocade), Cisco entering the Blade Server market with UCS, the teaming of EMC, VMware and Cisco to offer products aimed at the cloud were other significant happenings.

So how does 2010 look? Quite misty I would say 🙂 People would love it if I said it would be cloudy since lot of vendors are betting on the industry to take to the cloud in a big way. Microsoft, Google and Amazon have shown that cloud can work and now the bigger boys want a bigger market for cloud and of course a big share of that market. My feeling is that lot of marketing dollars from the big guys will go into pushing their ‘cloud’ products. EMC, VMware and Cisco are playing the game together, which means the other big boys will start such collaborations as well in order to fight this combination. Will be interesting to see how the game develops. No one knows for sure what the future of Cloud would be but no one wants to miss the bus, if and when it arrives!!

From a technology perspective, what does 2010 hold? I see the same technologies that have been discussed in 2009 getting wider acceptance in 2010. Will there be any new breakthrough technology? I am not so sure going by the current trend. FCOE will slowly pick up this year but it will take some more time before it becomes the default standard in the data center. Automatic tiering will be discussed and implemented in lot more arrays. EMC’s FAST has already started the debate with other vendors highlighting how automatic tiering is done in their arrays. Thin Provisioning is slowly going the way of being a standard feature rather than being a differentiator. Primary Dedupe will get some attention but will it become mainstream? I doubt it. Effectiveness of SSDs have been debated and beaten to death. They will get a new lease of life with Automatic Tiering since technologies like FAST are supposed to ensure that your effective use your high cost SSDs. Will it be the year of I/O virtualization? XSigo got some good press and were discussed quite a bit. Their value proposition is quite good and I hope they do well. HP bought IBRIX and that gave some attention to scale out NAS. Storage Virtualization is a topic which will be discussed, if not by everyone, definitely by HDS.

One thing every Storage vendor has been trying to do is to get their products to work well with Server Virtualization products like VMWare, Hyper V and Xen. More management tools are required here because it becomes a nightmare to keep track of which physical disks hold your files given so much of virtualization happening!! Backup / Restore software also are raising up to the challenge of integrating their products with server virtualization products on one end and with Dedupe on the other side.

In all, I don’t see too many dramatic things happening in 2010. I hope, for my sake and all other bloggers, I am wrong. (Of course, if you play your cards correctly and change your predictions fast enough, you can never be wrong!!!)

Wish all of you a great New Year 2010. May we all see good growth in our personal and professional lives.