Storage UPDATE--Fibre Channel for Midsized Business--August 2, 2004
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- Fibre Channel: Knocking on the Door of Midsized Businesses
2. News and Views
- Sony Unveils Fourth-Generation AIT
- Cisco and IBM Add Support to TotalStorage Solution
- A Problem with Multitape Backups on Windows 2000 Server
4. New and Improved
- Drop-In Serial ATA RAID Device
- Tape Drives Get New Software
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!
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==== 1. Commentary ====
by Elliot King, email@example.com
Fibre Channel: Knocking on the Door of Midsized Businesses
For the past decade, Fibre Channel has been seen as the king of the mountain of storage networking technologies. As the foundation for Storage Area Networks (SANs) and designed to work with the highest-capacity, most technologically advanced storage systems, Fibre Channel has become the technology of choice for data centers in many Fortune 3000 enterprises. By some estimates, there are perhaps 100,000 SANs worldwide that use Fibre Channel as the interconnect technology for moving data from host servers to disk and tape storage devices quickly and securely.
However, Fibre Channel technology might soon break out of the high-end market segment and emerge as a viable alternative for midsized enterprises. A conflux of three factors is driving the potential broadening of Fibre Channel's reach. First, according to the latest round of market research numbers, the technology turned in a disappointing performance in first quarter 2004 and continues to face severe pricing pressures. Clearly, vendors have an incentive to look for ways to expand beyond their traditional large-enterprise markets. Second, some industry observers argue that midsized businesses--companies with revenues from $100 million to $400 million--have been poorly served by the storage industry. Third, and perhaps most significantly, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) recently endorsed a new class of hybrid disk drives that combines a Fibre Channel interface with a low-cost-per-gigabyte, high-capacity drive. The new storage devices cost significantly less per gigabyte than those usually associated with Fibre Channel.
First, the bad news. According to a study recently released by the Yankee Group, the Fibre Channel SAN component market grew only modestly in first quarter 2004, hitting $434 million in revenue. Although more than the $424 million the market sector generated in first quarter 2003, the 2004 revenues were well below forecasts. In fact, according to the Yankee Group, most Fibre Channel SAN vendors reported revenues at or below forecasts, with the exception of Cisco Systems, which reported 20 percent sequential growth. And even at Cisco, the growth rate has slowed.
The Fibre Channel SAN component market is divided into three categories: switches, directors, and host bus adapters (HBAs). Switch revenue plunged to $120 million in first quarter 2004, well below both forecasts and the $145 million generated in the first quarter last year. Revenues for the director segment climbed to $144.3 million, above forecasts and above 2003's per-quarter average of $117.7 million. Yankee Group analysts attribute the gains to large businesses upgrading and consolidating existing SANs. Although below forecasts, the HBA segment showed modest growth, generating $168.9 million in first quarter 2004 compared to 2003's per-quarter average of $161.4 million.
The main culprit for the disappointing performance in the switch and HBA categories, according to the Yankee Group, was pricing pressure. In an effort to reach smaller enterprises, vendors slashed prices. That action reveals a simple, hard truth: Fibre Channel SANs have been too expensive for many midsized companies. Assuming that companies spend approximately 1.5 percent to 4 percent of their revenue on IT, midsized companies have annual IT budgets ranging from $1.5 million to $16 million. A sophisticated, high-capacity SAN, however, can cost $2 million or more. Even less-comprehensive implementations can easily reach into the mid-six-figure range. That price tag has often been too high for many midsized companies even though they want the functionality, robustness, speed, and security that Fibre Channel offers.
Part of the solution might come from a new class of disk drives conceived by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, HP, and Seagate Technology and endorsed by the FCIA. The new drives combine a Fibre Channel interface with high-capacity, relatively low-cost disk drives. Customers can combine these drives with high-performance Fibre Channel drives in the same drive enclosure, letting end users segment data between lower-cost drives and high-performance Fibre Channel drives and reducing the system's overall cost by storing noncritical and less frequently accessed information on less expensive drives.
In April, HP announced that it would be the first vendor to offer a 250GB, low-cost Fibre Channel drive, called a Fibre Attached Technology Adapted disk drive. The drive should start shipping soon, and solutions based on the drive are expected early next year. Last month, the FCIA endorsed the approach, which is supported by a broad range of companies, including Emulex, Finisar, PMC-Sierra, and QLogic.
In the final analysis, storage networks are attractive to companies of all sizes. The emergence of Fibre Channel SAN-based technology at a price that's affordable for midsized businesses could offer an appealing alternative in that market segment.
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==== 2. News and Views ====
by Keith Furman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sony Unveils Fourth-Generation AIT
Sony Electronics has upgraded its Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) format with the introduction of AIT-4. The new fourth-generation format increases AIT storage capacity to 200GB of native storage (520GB at 2.6:1 compression) and provides transfer speeds of up to 24MBps. AIT-4 drives ship in a 3.5" drive form factor and and support 8mm media. AIT-4 drives are read and write compatible with AIT-3 media and can read AIT-2 and AIT-1 media. Sony plans to add write once, read many (WORM) functionality later this year. "The format will continue to evolve to stay ahead of the needs of small business users and to keep pace with ever-expanding data storage needs of enterprise departments. AIT-4 is the highest-density tape drive in the world, allowing our customers to manage fewer tapes and conserve space," said Hiroyuki Minamiya, senior marketing manager for Sony Electronics' Tape Storage Division.
AIT-4 drives will be available from OEMs in September; Qualstar and Spectra Logic are among the companies expected to support the new format. Sony will ship Sony-branded AIT-4 drives and media in October.
Cisco and IBM Add Support to TotalStorage Solution
Cisco Systems and IBM have announced an update to IBM's TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller virtualization software for the Cisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer Switch. TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller lets users manage resource utilization for storage area networks (SANs). The update adds support for EMC's CLARiiON networked storage systems, Hitachi Data Systems' Thunder and Lightning storage products, and HP's Modular Array and Enterprise Modular Array storage arrays, as well as support for IBM's FAStT and Shark storage servers. The companies will extend support to other storage systems, including the EMC Symmetrix DMX Series, in the near future.
The update also includes support for low-cost Internet SCSI (iSCSI) connectivity using Cisco MDS 9000 IP Storage Service Modules. Previously, only Fibre Channel-connected devices were supported. "\[The addition of iSCSI support\] means that our customers can use this in a multiprotocol environment, which is a typical profile of a data center environment, and take it across to one common pool of storage," said Jeff Barnett, manager of strategy and storage software at IBM. The enhancements provided by the update are available now.
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==== 4. New and Improved ====
by Renee Munshi, email@example.com
Drop-In Serial ATA RAID Device
Accordance Systems announced the availability of its ARAID 2000 Serial ATA (SATA) RAID storage solution. ARAID is an intelligent PC storage subsystem that plugs into a SATA port and supports two drives: one for RAID data protection (mirroring) and the other for data acceleration (striping). Because ARAID 2000 requires no software to operate, it's compatible with popular OSs such as Windows and Linux. The unit mounts into standard 5.25" drive bays, allowing easy access should a drive die or become corrupted. Each unit supports disk hot-swapping and includes an LCD status display, independent locking disk trays, audible warning alarms, and forced-air cooling. The unit also supports an optional SNMP agent for remote monitoring by popular network management systems such as IBM Tivoli, HP OpenView, and AdventNet OpManager. The product's list price is $370.
Tape Drives Get New Software
Yosemite Technologies and Exabyte announced that Yosemite's base-level backup software, TapeWare XE, is now bundled with Exabyte's VXA-2 PacketLoader tape libraries. TapeWare offers high-performance data backup and recovery via as many as 240 concurrent data steams. It supports bare-metal recovery on Windows, Linux, and Novell NetWare and supports Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Oracle databases. The VXA-2 PacketLoader 1x10 1U has 10 cartridge slots for a capacity of 1.6TB of compressed data (160GB per cartridge). The VXA-2 PacketLoader 1x7 Desktop is a desktop unit with seven cartridge slots and a capacity of 1.1TB of compressed data. The VXA-2 PacketLoaders bundled with TapeWare XE are priced at $3299.
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