SAS Product Introductions – A Key Milestone in the Evolution of Storage

Author: Marty Czekalski
Maxtor Corporation

As Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) products start to roll out over the next several months, IT managers can feel confident in purchasing storage solutions based on SAS. Not only will SAS serve the storage needs of today’s systems, but it will also enable a new range of capabilities previously unavailable in small to midrange servers and systems.

Many of these features have been discussed in previous issues of Serial Storage Wire and include; enhanced performance, scalability, reliability and availability and, in addition, compatibility with both SATA and SAS disk drives. These features not only address a broad range of price-performance points for storage subsystems, but also enable the concept of tiered storage and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) to be applied to systems targeted at Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) and branch office environments.

The Data Management Forum has defined its vision for ILM as “a new set of management practices based on aligning the business value of information to the most appropriate and cost-effective infrastructure.” To date, much of the discussion regarding ILM and tiered storage has been centered on large systems involving storage area networks. In many of these cases, each storage tier is implemented as an entire subsystem, with a substantial entry cost. The ability to create tiered storage systems within a single server or small cluster will allow these concepts to be applied on a much broader and cost-effective scale. The policies, practices and tools for aligning the business value of information with the most cost-effective infrastructure will evolve to include smaller systems and solutions.

With SAS, the benefits of ILM can be scaled to smaller, cost-effective solutions. When applied to an SMB application, these systems will enable IT managers to more effectively manage information based on business requirements and data value, contrasted with the manual methods of assigning data to storage in use today. Businesses will reap the benefits of ILM, while minimizing their investments in capital and infrastructure.

When applied to larger enterprises, SAS-based systems will allow ILM policies to be centrally managed and controlled, while the physical implementation can be distributed across the enterprise to best meet local use requirements of the information such as branch offices or departments. This approach will reduce infrastructure bandwidth requirements in addition to enabling implementations on a geographically dispersed, more cost-effective hardware base. These systems will be capable of scaling more easily and economically than traditional monolithic solutions. SAS will play a key role in helping to drive down both the acquisition and information management costs associated with storage solutions.

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