A SAS Sighting at CeBit

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Seagate Technology demonstrated its Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) technology with HP at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany this past week. Seagate claims the event marked the first time that products using SAS have been shown in live functional demonstrations.

The announcement was one of many at CeBIT, with additional storage news coming from LSI Logic, which demonstrated a Serial ATA storage solution, and Cisco, which unveiled DWDM enhancements for SAN environments.

Serial Attached SCSI is the SCSI Trade Association proposal to replace parallel SCSI, which currently dominates the enterprise storage space. Products featuring another emerging technology, Serial ATA, have gotten a head start, however, and are already on the market, while the first SAS products could be more than a year away from release. David Szabados of Seagate said he expects SAS products to make their commercial debut in the first half of 2004. Unlike current SCSI and ATA devices, SAS and SATA will be interchangeable.

The Seagate demonstration used a fully operational SAS Cheetah disc drive attached to a computer that allows program scripts to be sent to a packet generator, which in turn sends them over the SAS interface to a Cheetah 73 GByte SAS drive. The traffic on the interface then passes through a protocol analyzer pod and can be viewed on the computer.

Brian Dexheimer, Seagate’s executive vice president for worldwide sales, marketing and customer service, calls SAS “an exciting migration path for SCSI and one that will allow companies to benefit from sharing richer content and information across their systems and allow increased efficiency.”

Enterprise Storage Group Research Analyst Peter Gerr contends the announcement is a positive development for SAS technology but one that is “more evolutionary than revolutionary.”

SAS provides additional performance and bandwidth at a lower price point for users and applications that require it, according to Gerr, and it gives users even more flexibility and options in drive selection and matching price/performance to their overall information life-cycle management (ILM) scheme. “As if they didn’t have enough [choices] already,” quips Gerr.

“Are IT users sensitive to these options and sophisticated or motivated enough to navigate the differences and nuances between the different technologies?” wonders Gerr. “I’m thinking, not really, it’s more a price/performance trade-off, as well as looking at the cost of the entire solution.”

Gerr also asserts SAS is a “logical complement to Serial ATA drives that will really catch on this year,” and cites as one example EMC’s CLARiiON with ATA announcement this past week.

“There will be others, so the IT user can choose higher-cost, higher-performing SAS drives for their primary storage and Serial ATA drives for their secondary disk storage,” concludes Gerr.

LSI Logic and JMR Demonstrate Serial ATA Storage Solutions at CeBIT

LSI Logic demonstrated its MegaRAID Serial ATA 150-6 storage adapter with a disk drive enclosure from JMR Electronics that features six 2.5-inch SATA disk drives from Fujitsu.

The MegaRAID SATA 150-6 features an integrated 64-bit, 66 MHz I/O co-processor that powers LSI Logic’s full-featured, high-performance RAID firmware engine with support for RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 10, and 50, and that offers data transfer rates of up to 150 MB per second on each of the adapter’s six Serial ATA/150 ports.

The SATAStor storage system from JMR Electronics incorporates next-generation storage technology which the company claims to be “a completely new approach to storage.”

SATAStor is “an extremely small, cost-effective and highly-scalable storage system using SATA, small form-factor high capacity disk drives, and innovative design,” contends JMR.

SATAStor supports six 2.5-inch SATA disk drives in a single enclosure. This enclosure fits into a typical 5.25-inch half height drive bay, thus multiplying the number of spindles typically used in the space by a factor of six. Each drive has its own dedicated channel to the SATA Host Bus Adapter (HBA). This effectively eliminates the bottlenecks found in a typical shared bus enclosure, according to the company.

Cisco Announces DWDM Enhancements for SAN Environments

Cisco Systems announced several enhancements to the Cisco ONS 15530 Multiservice Aggregation Platform that deliver high-density service aggregation, optical interface flexibility, and high availability, “enabling enterprises to better scale network capacity and support network consolidation of rapidly increasing storage and Ethernet application traffic,” according to the company.

“Enterprise customers are looking for ways to consolidate their networks by extending DWDM beyond the SAN to incorporate all mission-critical applications and services on one infrastructure,” said Carl Engineer, senior director of marketing of Cisco’s Optical Networking Group. “With these new features, the Cisco ONS 15530 platform delivers scalability to meet increasing capacity requirements and flexibility to address traffic diversity while supporting the level of productivity our customers demand.”

Enhancements include the Cisco ONS 15530 8-Port Fibre Channel/Gigabit Ethernet Aggregation Card, Cisco ONS 15530 2.5-Gbps ITU Trunk Card, and new protection switch modules for the Cisco ONS 15500 Series.

Cisco improved the high-density service-aggregation capabilities of the Cisco ONS 15530 with the new 8-Port Fibre Channel/Gigabit Ethernet aggregation card and 2.5-Gbps ITU trunk card. The aggregation card efficiently uses wavelengths by aggregating up to eight Fibre Channel, fiber connectivity (FICON), or Gigabit Ethernet signals on a single 10-Gbps wavelength. The 2.5-Gbps ITU trunk card increases fiber carrying capacity for storage and data applications by aggregating multiple enterprise system connection (ESCON), Fibre Channel, FICON, and Gigabit Ethernet services over a single International Telecommunication Union (ITU) wavelength. Both features support the ability to scale the network without interruption as new services are added.

With 2.5- and 10-Gbps ITU trunk-card options, the Cisco ONS 15530 platform delivers optical interface flexibility, providing greater scalability from low-density to high-density deployments. The ONS 15530 2.5-Gbps ITU Trunk Card also allows flexible network designs that require the ability to add or drop a few services per site around a metropolitan-area network (MAN or metro) ring.

Multiple optical-protection schemes are another benefit DWDM brings to storage area networks, claims Cisco. According to the company, new protection switch modules for the Cisco ONS 15500 series provide more reliable, cost-effective fiber trunk protection for disaster recovery and business continuance solutions.


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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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