Hitachi Interviews HP About Serial Attached SCSI

Author: Doug Pickford, Director of Product Planning and Strategy,
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has been working with HP and numerous other companies to help define the Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) standard and deliver products to the marketplace. We recently caught up with HP’s Jeff Jenkins to discuss SAS in greater detail, including the benefits he believes it will afford to HP customers.

As vice president of server storage and infrastructure at HP, Jeff’s organization is working to ensure that HP’s enterprise customers realize maximum performance, reliability and flexibility from their SAS-based systems.

Q: How will HP customers benefit from the new SAS technology?
A: Customers can reduce their overall total cost of ownership by standardizing on one server and storage platform to tune their data center by buying the right storage for a given application. They will also benefit from a reduction in the administrative costs associated with data center training and support. Customers will also have fewer stock-keeping units (SKUs) to purchase and qualify.
Q: What applications will be most appropriate for SAS and which will continue to be the domain of Parallel SCSI?
A: SAS is designed for internal direct-attached storage (DAS) for servers, entry-level storage area networks (SAN) and network attached (NAS) products. SAS will be appropriate for most of the applications that currently use SCSI, such as database applications and file and print. Parallel SCSI will be a holistic transition to SAS.
Q: When does HP plan to integrate SAS-based hard drives into its product portfolio?
A: Servers will begin to roll out with SAS in 2005.
Q: What do you expect in terms of SAS growth rates? Will your decision to implement the new technology be an easy one—are you expecting to ramp-up slowly?
A: The decision has been made to adopt SAS into the ProLiant server line. The ramp will happen as we introduce new servers as part of our generational upgrades that are closely tied to Intel processor introductions.
Q: What percentage of your customers have requested that SAS technology be integrated into your systems going forward?
A: Our customers look to HP to provide the best solution that meets their needs. More than 95 percent of ProLiant customers choose SCSI today for their solution because it has the performance and reliability they require for their business applications. HP’s expectation is that most customers will choose SAS going forward because, as the next generation of SCSI, it will continue to deliver more of what customers demand.
Q: Do you expect SAS to coexist or compete with Parallel SCSI and Fibre Channel? Do you think there is room for a fourth major interface?
A: SAS will directly replace Parallel SCSI. SAS will co-exist with Serial ATA (SATA) and Fibre Channel because the technologies offer discreet benefits.

The following is an overview of the specific applications for each interface:

  • SAS: Internal server storage and entry external storage; 7/24 business environments that require performance and reliability
  • SATA: Low workload server business environments and infrequently accessed or bulk storage applications
  • Fibre Channel: Enterprise SAN environments that require the highest levels of reliability and performance

Q: What has HP been doing to further the SAS interface standard?
A: We are part of the industry T10, SATA Working Group and SCSI Trade Association to ensure the proper positioning of the technology to the market. Industry adoption of standards-based technology is critical for success.
Q: Does HP have any plans to build systems that include SATA and SAS devices within the same enclosure? What do you see as the benefits/limitations of this type of system?
A: The SAS technology will allow SAS and SATA to be used conjointly in a server or storage system providing customers with incredible flexibility. For entry storage, the benefits of using both SAS and SATA will be for customers to replicate their data from SAS drives to less expensive SATA drives in order to recover from a failure from disk rather than tape, which dramatically reduces downtime.

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