Putting a Fresh Interface on Storage Standards

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An industry group hopes to standardize storage interfaces with a new specification, a move that could give end users greater flexibility at lower cost.

The Storage Bridge Bay Working Group’s (SBB) 2.0 specification advances a two-year-old effort to standardize storage controllers, form factors and canisters (see Vendors Unite for Standard Interface).

Leaders of the group said SBB 2.0 will foster faster product development, reduce product costs and offer more than a few benefits to the end-user environment.

The spec defines mechanical, electrical and internal interfaces between a storage enclosure and the controllers that provide a subsystem’s functionality, creating a common canister that supports higher-power components and high-density disk enclosures.

Adopting compliant enclosures and controller modules could enable a single chassis to offer a number of storage options like RAID, JBOD, network-attached storage (NAS) and iSCSI.

The latest version of the specs could drive more storage choices and new technologies into the marketplace, said Mark Hall, chairman of the SBB’s marketing subgroup.

The SBB is hoping to provide interoperability and help vendors develop and create more feature-rich products in a shorter production lifecycle, reducing costs that could lower device prices.

“It’s targeted at developers and storage vendors to help shorten product development cycles and interoperability issues,” Hall said. “It’s not plug-and-play, but it should help integration get easier.”

The first spec, 1.0, debuted in September 2006, just about seven months after four vendors formed the nonprofit group. Today, the association now boasts 43 storage industry players, with Sun the latest to sign up. Other members include Dell, EMC, IBM, Emulex, Xyratex, Intel, NetApp, NEC, Adaptec, LSI, PMC-Sierra, AMCC, Dot Hill, AMD and Seagate.

With several 1.0 products already shipping and more expected with the 2.0 specification, Hall said group members are already seeing benefits from their participation in the SBB.

Xyratex experienced a 37 percent reduction in product development time with the 1.0 spec, and that number has jumped to 53 percent with 2.0, Hall said.

“It’s already cutting costs in half, and vendors can either pass that savings onto customer in terms of product price or provide more feature-rich products,” Hall said.

“End users will have a wide range of tech choices when it comes to storage configuration,” Hall said. “If they like one brand of chassis but another vendor’s Fibre Channel, this specification provides for that possibility. It’s a win for everyone.”

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl is an experienced technology journalist who has served as a senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger for InformationWeek, Investors Business Daily, CNET, and Information Security Magazine, as well as other media outlets.

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