Maxtor Interview: Chaparral Network Storage

Chaparral Network Storage designs and markets storage appliances
that provide simple solutions to common storage networking
problems. Chaparral specializes in advanced performance devices
that deliver data efficiently within the network, and sells
protocol bridges, data routers, RAID controllers and disk
array appliances that are network-ready. Maxtor recently had
the opportunity to sit down with James Russo, Vice President
of Engineering, at Chaparral Network Storage to discuss his
views on Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), and how its ability to
interoperate with Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives will affect
the way storage systems are designed and deployed.

SAS will be the first device-level interconnect that will
offer the ability to connect either high capacity SATA drives
or high performance SAS drives on the same system infrastructure.
How will storage system architects take advantage of this?
A. This interconnect allowed the architect
and designers to focus on a design which can be delivered
to multiple levels of the customer channel. The design allowed
for use in various products while taking into consideration
price, performance, and features satisfying a broad range
of customer requirements.

Q: What
kinds of opportunities does this represent for engineering
A. The key in development today is time
to market with as much leverage of technology as possible.
The SAS/SATA interoperability is the type of technology thinking
that has helped development achieve its goals and provide
extensibility to the end user.

Q: What
existing expertise and knowledge will be leveraged in developing
SAS solutions?
A. Since SAS has been built from the
existing SCSI interface, the years of knowledge which we have
collected was immediately used in the development of product.
With the interface similarities between SAS and SATA we were
able to leverage the design experience on both products and
take advantage of the solid foundation of the SCSI interface.

Q: What
do you consider to be the most exciting aspect of SAS systems?
A. From a design standpoint, the ability
to leverage multiple products from the same hardware architecture
is critical in today’s time-sensitive environment. This
reduced the time to market as well as lowering the multiple
parts structure, which is a challenge in most manufacturing
arenas. The customer will see a tremendous benefit in the
choices of solutions available to meet their evolving storage

Q: How
will IT managers and end users benefit form the ability of
SAS and SATA drives to interoperate in a SAS system?
A. By simply changing out disk drives
the IT manager will have the ability to upgrade a cost-effective
storage solution to a high performance storage solution and
vice versa. The storage controllers and front-end interconnect
will remain the same, so the amount of spare parts inventory
and maintenance will decrease. The investment protection will
help to justify new technology expenditures and quickly generate
an agreeable ROI.

Q: To
what degree do you believe end users are aware SAS is coming,
and what do you believe is the best way to make them aware
of these benefits?
A. Chaparral Network Storage has been
working with key partners/end users in the development of
this next generation of products. However, there will need
to be a major education effort to help the IT staff justify
another technological advance.

Q: What
do you expect to be the most challenging aspects of bringing
SAS based systems to market?
A. As with all new designs, the testing,
validation, and interoperability will have to be proven. However,
because of the great leverage between SAS and SATA, the amount
of work in qualification will be less time-consuming and therefore
quicker to hit the market with a dependable set of solutions.

Q: So
when can we expect to see SAS products from Chaparral?
A. Chaparral Network Storage has been
at the forefront of SATA solutions and expects SAS products
to become available to meet the needs from the customer set.
We continue to work with partners and end users to best position
SAS solutions that make financial and technical sense for
their IT operational activities.

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