There’s a dark horse coming up on the outside
Isn’t Sun – and Solaris – almost dead? No and they’re showing quite a bit of life in the storage arena. It is amazing what a $12 billion company can do with a unique strategy and deep engineering smarts.

One big change: after winning the 1.6 billion dollar anti-trust settlement against Microsoft, including a 10 year cooperation agreement, the 2 companies have embraced each other in ways – like storage – unthinkable 10 years ago.

CIFS support in the Solaris kernal
Sun’s steadily falling attach rate led me to give up on Sun as a storage vendor. But the new CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, has a new storage strategy: move storage functionality into the operating system. And there is a VP of Solaris storage software, Bob Porras.

The latest piece: CIFS. For years I’ve listened to engineers moan about the pain of implementing CIFS on non-Windows systems. Now I know why.

In a blog post Sun engineer Alan Wright explains:

There is a common misconception that Windows interoperability is just a case of implementing file transfer using the CIFS protocol. Unfortunately, that doesn’t get you very far. Windows interoperability also requires that a server support various Windows services, typically MSRPC services, and it is very sensitive to the way that those services behave: Windows interoperability requires that a CIFS server convince a Windows client or server that it “is Windows”. This is really only possible if the operating system supports those services at a fundamental level.

Solving those issues required 180,000 lines of new code in Solaris.

It gets better
They also made changes to ZFS (see my ZFS: Threat or Menace?) to support CIFS:

  • Support for DOS attributes (archive, hidden, read-only and system)
  • Case-insensitive file name operations.
  • Support for ubiquitous cross-protocol – NFS and CIFS – file sharing.

Check out the storage community at OpenSolaris to see what else is cooking.

The StorageMojo take
OpenSolaris is becoming the finest storage platform out there. Adding CIFS support to the kernal is a Big Deal: OpenSolaris will be industry’s first OSS universal storage platform.

Only a company with nothing to lose in the traditional big iron storage business could be so bold. My hat is off to Jonathan and Bob.

Update: For more detail on other SMB related changes, check out Doug McCallum’s Share Manager blog.

Comments welcome, as always. Yes, I know the Samba guys aren’t happy. One of these days I’m going to tackle the GPL vs CDDL thing and see if I can make any sense of it. I’m also wondering where all the givebacks are from the storage companies using OSS in their products.