SAS-SATA Compatibility – Could this be the Key to Scalable, Flexible Storage?

Author: Greg Meythaler, Product Marketing Engineer

We’ve all heard the mind-boggling statistics. Data is accumulating at a phenomenal rate, more than doubling every two years. And analysts estimate that even though a whopping 161 exabytes of digital information was created worldwide in 2006, we can expect to generate more than six times that amount – 988 exabytes – in 2010.

Resellers, take note: Digital data growth represents a golden selling opportunity, especially if you can tap into the small-medium business (SMB) segment. Most of these businesses don’t have a storage strategy to begin with, let alone a plan for growth. Yet with so much data on the horizon, they will be forced to do something about storage very soon. It’s an opportunity you really can’t afford to ignore.

But it’s a challenging one too. SMBs need storage that can quickly and easily grow with their business and their data. They want the flexibility to go with a DAS strategy one day, and then migrate to NAS or SAN as their needs change. Integration with existing networking equipment is important. Solutions must be powerful and – above all – reliable.

Such easy-to-use, scalable solutions that are affordable for smaller-sized budgets are not easy to find. When you consider the SMB’s long list of storage needs, the list of possible solutions gets down to this: The Intel® Storage Server SSR212MC2.

The SSR212MC2 is both storage and server in one, which means it’s all about flexibility. Capable of supporting 12 enterprise-class SAS or high-capacity SATA hard disk drives, it also includes a PCI Express x8 slot so you can connect to Fibre Channel, Infiniband, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks. The SSR212MC2 also houses its own computing resources – up to eight high-performance processor cores – so it can function as a storage application server as well.

Capacity That Grows with the Data

The first and most important goal when introducing storage to a new customer is to provide a scalable solution that can grow right along with the data over a long period of time. And one of the best ways to do that is through SAS-SATA compatibility.

A lot of entry level customers prefer to use SATA hard disk drives (HDD) because they hold a lot of data and are affordable. It’s a great place to start. But if you have a storage system that only supports SATA drives, adding speed and availability and scaling up to an enterprise-class system isn’t so easy. For that you need SAS, which is known for running at much higher RPMs and provide better data availability in transaction-intensive environments. That’s why SAS-SATA compatibility can be an important selling point for SMBs who need affordable, scalable solutions.

The Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 offers just that. SMBs can consider starting with high-capacity, 7,200 RPM SATA HDDs, which are less expensive than Fibre Channel or SCSI drives and simplify cabling. And because SATA drives offer software transparency and scalability, they can help lower upgrade costs.

Then when the time comes to deploy more enterprise-level features in their storage system, these customers can switch to SAS HDDs, which offer enterprise-class reliability. With spindle speeds of 10,000 RPM and 15,000 RPM, and an architecture that enables a point-to-point connection and full-duplex, or bi-directional, data transfers, SAS HDDs offer performance and reliability similar to SCSI or Fibre Channel HDDs.

Even More Flexibility

The Intel® Storage Server SSR212MC2 is a flexible hardware platform that can be coupled with one of a number of different industry software solutions to create an application server with internal storage (DAS) or used as a dedicated network storage appliance (NAS or SAN). Such versatility is virtually unknown in the storage industry, especially in solutions built for SMBs. Because this customer segment varies greatly in their storage needs, this kind of flexibility is essential.

Intel has engaged with storage software providers to ensure the availability of a variety of software solutions that are pre-configured to run on the SSR212MC2. These include applications that allow the Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 to be configured as a SAN or a NAS system, and even DAS if desired. Please see Document Management below.

Intel is also providing flexibility with a robust set of hardware options that deliver high bandwidth storage and server connectivity. Dual- and quad-port Intel® PRO server adapters provide an option for increased bandwidth through bonding of ports, or reliability via failover. Additional options will include, 10 Gb Ethernet, 4 Gbps Fibre
Channel connectivity, and 20 Gbps Infiniband connectivity.

Environments ranging from high-performance computing to the growing compute, networking, and storage needs of small and medium businesses can all benefit from the flexible network connectivity options available, via add-in cards, with the SSR212MC2.

Document Management: A Solution Scenario

Many kinds of small-medium businesses—including doctor’s offices, insurance firms, credit unions, shipping centers, pharmacies, light manufacturing operations, construction companies, and others—rely on ready access to information to service their customers and manage their operations. They range from small start-ups to established companies – all with the goal of growing bigger over time.

One way these companies can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their internal operations – and thereby grow faster – is through the adoption of an electronic document management solution, including a software component (like DocuLex document management software) and hardware components (such as a Kodak Scan Station 100 and the Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2).

Any company looking to increase office productivity, empower employees with improved access to information, and satisfy customers through more efficient processes and aftermarket support can benefit from a complete electronic document management solution. The potential benefits of such a solution are significant:

  • Reduce paper use. Paper is expensive, when physical cost, processing, and storage are taken into account. Trying to access information on paper also wastes time. According to All Associates, 75 percent of the cost of a document is in management and logistics.
  • Minimize copying expenses. A Gartner survey indicated that the average business document is copied 9 times. The costs and labor associated with copy machine use can be considerable. Duplicating and distributing documents electronically can eliminate the vast majority of these expenses.
  • Improve overall document handling. A survey performed by INC magazine concluded that it costs, on average, USD 20 for a business to file a document. If the document is misfiled, it then costs approximately USD 120 to search for it. In the worst case, if the lost document must be recreated, it costs the business on average USD 250. These types of expenses can be largely eliminated through an effective electronic document management system.
  • Eliminate redundancy in information handling. CAP Venture Group determined that 80 percent of the documents that business people work with in the computer are also retained on paper, creating unnecessary redundancy and waste.
  • Free staff members for more productive work. Studies estimate that professionals typically spend over 500 hours annually reviewing and routing files and another 150 hours looking for incorrectly filed documents. This time could be used much more productively with an electronic document management solution in place.

The goal of the totally paperless office is not a realistic pursuit in the typical business environment today. But businesses that start to capture, store, and retrieve information in a primarily digital form will experience better workflow, increased productivity and efficiency, and improved processes that enable more accurate compliance with complex laws. It’s a mission worth starting, and one made more feasible with the Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2.

Selling the Story

SATA-SAS compatibility of the Intel Storage Server SSR212MC2 is just one of many reasons your SMB customers will be interested in this highly flexible storage solution. Its compatibility with a variety of third party storage applications and ability to function as DAS, NAS or SAN are even more compelling. The SSR212MC2 virtually sells itself, which means you’ll have an easy time building the complete solutions that satisfy each of your customers’ specific needs. One product = many scenarios.

For more information, contact your Intel representative or go to

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