DTrace enabled storage analytics

by Robin Harris on Thursday, 12 March, 2009

Visited Sun’s undisclosed – not on the building directory – DTrace/Fishworks think tank a couple of months ago. Adam Leventhal, one of the DTrace developers, graciously showed me around the lab and demo’d Fishworks.

For latecomers, Adam once defined DTrace as

. . . a systemic observability framework that’s designed explicitly for use on mission-critical systems. It lets users and system administrators get concise answers to arbitrary questions.

DTrace is available on Solaris, OpenSolaris and Mac OS X.

Update: If you go to YouTube you can now see the video in their much clearer and larger HD version. Click on the HD button below the viewer on the right side. End update.

Sun’s SSD initiative
Adam also talked about the cool work Sun is doing with SSDs. They’ve done some rethinking on SSD applications. One is Logzilla, a small SSD configured as a ring buffer for – surprise! – write logging. No need for wear leveling as the writes start at one end of the address space and proceed sequentially to the other end, where the process begins again.

Adam has more about Sun’s “hybrid storage pools” on his blog.

The StorageMojo take
Real time analytics on mission-critical systems is a winner. Other management systems offer drill down but I don’t think I’ve seen one this flexible – but I haven’t seen all of them. Readers feel free to chime in on what you like and/or don’t about the demo.

Be gentle – this is less than 4 minutes of a 30 minute tour – not everything is revealed. Competitors: please keep the chest-beating down to a few salient points.

DTrace and Fishworks are a powerful combo. One more reason – along with ZFS – that OpenSolaris is a better platform than Linux for feature-rich storage.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. No money changed hands – not even lunch. I just like what the team is doing.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 12, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Great. How is Sun planning to monetize this?

Fazal Majid March 12, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Anonymous: they are making NAS/SAN appliances to eat Netapp’s lunch, as well as some of EMC’s midrange stuff, and offering analytics as a differentiator. Keep in mind that the UI is not open-sourced, only DTrace is. DTrace is very mature now (it’s been available since the first rev of Solaris 10, unlike ZFS), but the power also means a steep learning curve. The Fishworks analytics UI masks all that complexity and makes it usable for the average harried admin who can’t afford to spend a week learning DTrace’s D scripting language.

Adam Leventhal March 12, 2009 at 10:38 pm

To provide a bit more context: the video narrated by my mumbling-self is a live view of a Sun Storage 7410 that we use as the office file server for the Fishworks group at Sun. The 7000 series is a line of unified storage products built on technologies like DTrace, ZFS and the Hybrid Storage Pool. From those, we’ve created a complete appliance that, as Fazal noted, should be quite competitive with products from the established players in that space.

Robin Harris March 12, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Anonymous – I’ll be posting about that.

I shot the video on a $150 HD cam the size of a paperback book. No mic on Adam but considering the sound is pretty good – just turn up the volume. Then edited on iMovie ’09 since I got it a month ago and had to try it out.


Dave McDorman March 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm


It’s worth pointing out that the three principle coders of Dtrace are the principle drivers behind Fishworks/Appliances… Mike Shapiro, Brian Cantrell, Adam Leventhal (M+B+A).

For me the real Killer App of the Fishworks software atack are the embedded software services: Remote/IP-based/Replication, Remote Management (assuming access to port 215), CLI/Scripting Interfaces. All with *no license* fees…

DISCLOSURE: I’m working to sell these applicances as a Reseller of Sun’s products. With the MBA and talented Fishworks team they may shift the econmics of storage the way SPARC changed the datacenter of the 90’s and java changed software development.

How would we like to see a Fishworks IP-switch/Load Balancer Appliance with a Dtrace Analytic toolset?
We would like to go there.

It’s also a great opportunity for agile start-ups… Nexenta, Greenbytes, etc.

H4mm3r March 18, 2009 at 4:56 am

Open storage is free but you don’t have Fishworks. So, it is where the added value is and not surprisingly, you pay for it.
The real kicker is how many ways you can reach your data (SAN, iSCSI, NAS…) and all the features. I hope good deduplication will come. The last thing that lacks Fishwork a priori is managing multiple appliances by global policies and AD connection.

Evan Powell March 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I’m extremely biased but most of our users tell us they don’t have time to use DTRACE. I personally love the Dtrace interface however we found the addition of search and block level replication to the unbelievably powerful ZFS foundation to be the winners — along with the hardware independent business model — when we launched. More recently we’ve seen that real integration into VMware and other virtualization is critical (hence our VM Data Center module) plus the couple of thousand fixes we’ve done on top of OpenSolaris.

Eric Anderson January 17, 2011 at 11:36 pm

If you want to have similar visibility, in a vendor-agnostic and datacenter-wide way, you should also check out CopperEgg. I’m also biased about that of course. Lots of open storage that need this level of visibility.

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