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July 8, 2002—In this issue:
- Should InfiniBand Be on Your Beta Agenda?
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Overland Data Changes Name
- Adaptec Brings Serial ATA RAID Closer to Reality
- Get Valuable Info for Free with IT Consultant Newsletter
- July Is Hot! Our Free Webinars Are Cool!
- Tip: Lowdown on Iomega's Peerless Disks
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Enhanced Pathlight 5000
- Manage Your Entire Storage Network from One Desktop
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Elliot King, [email protected])
The InfiniBand Trade Association (see URL below) has packaged its message and taken it on the road. Last month, in New York, Washington, DC, and Boston, proponents of the new interconnect technology briefed IT managers about its benefits and made the case that data centers should prepare to add the technology to their beta-testing programs next year.
The InfiniBand technology provides a high-bandwidth, low-latency common standard for communications, storage, and networking I/O, replacing three connections with one. (The term InfiniBand comes from the phrase "infinite bandwidth.") With an approach called switched fabric, products that use the InfiniBand technology connect servers and peripheral devices throughout an organization, whether those devices are based on Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Ultra SCSI, or proprietary interconnect technologies. Currently, each connection technology requires its own fabric. Moreover, offloading I/O communications tasks to the fabric frees up CPU cycles for transaction processing and other compute-intensive tasks.
Since the first version of the specification appeared in October 2000, nearly 200 companies--including industry heavyweights such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Intel, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems--have joined the InfiniBand Trade Association. About 70 companies have announced plans for products based on InfiniBand technology. According to Byron Longmire, director of product marketing for Mellanox Technologies, which provides chips based on the InfiniBand technology, many commercial products are currently in beta testing and should come to market by 2003.
Market analysts are bullish about the long-term prospects for the InfiniBand technology (see URL below). According to the market-research organization IDC, the technology should reach critical mass in 2004, when 15 to 25 percent of all servers shipped will include this new technology. IDC anticipates that by 2006, 30 to 50 percent of servers shipped will incorporate the InfiniBand technology.
Despite this promise, InfiniBand still must overcome some formidable obstacles. In addition to the commercial products that will emerge next year, underlying network technology has to improve as well. According to Longmire, 10GB Ethernet is the Infiniband "sweet spot." However, many enterprises don't have data flows that justify investing in 10GB Ethernet, noted Sharavan Pargal, manager of advanced technology and planning at QLogic and a participant in the InfiniBand Trade Association's conferences. He believes that companies that deploy 10GB Ethernet technology today will have trouble generating the "volume to fill the pipe."
Despite these concerns, InfiniBand proponents believe that now is the time for IT managers--particularly storage administrators--to start planning beta tests by using InfiniBand technology as it becomes available. Storage, through both Storage Area Networks (SANs) and Network Attached Storage (NAS), will be one of InfiniBand's first applications. In a recent report, the market-research organization Aberdeen Group argued that InfiniBand's fabric topology is the preferred architecture for storage networking (see URL below). According to Aberdeen analysts, storage networking currently uses three specific protocols, and administrators can use the InfiniBand switched fabric to aggregate the topologies into a unified network with an unlimited number of I/O channels.
Aberdeen analysts don't believe that storage will be the first major InfiniBand application. Instead, they believe that companies will first use InfiniBand for clustering servers—probably in database applications. In early tests, IBM reported that that its DB2 database had near linear scaling to 999 nodes using Infiniband technology when partitioning SAP's mySAP.com enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. In another case, the performance of a DB2 cluster on Linux improved by 25 to 40 percent when testers used InfiniBand technology instead of Ethernet.
As a result of these reports, Aberdeen anticipates that data centers will deploy InfiniBand along the following time line. This year, IT managers will get acquainted with the technology. In 2003, InfiniBand data centers will deploy InfiniBand in some clustering applications. By 2004, InfiniBand will play a role in storage networks as well.
InfiniBand, QLogic's Pargal argued, is a revolutionary technology that promises to have a significant impact over the long run for two key reasons: improved performance and better management control. The time for IT managers to learn about the InfiniBand technology is clearly now.
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2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Keith Furman, [email protected])
Overland Data, well known for its backup hardware, announced that shareholders approved a name change at a special meeting held on June 28, 2002. Effective immediately, the company is now Overland Storage. Overland sells a wide range of Overland-branded backup hardware and OEM-branded hardware to companies such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and IBM. Recently, the company expanded its product line by offering storage software-management products.
Christopher Calisi, president and CEO of Overland Storage, said, "For many years we have been known as a leading supplier of innovative automated tape libraries. Since arriving at Overland slightly over a year ago, it has been my goal to expand our reach into adjacent markets. This desire led to the creation of our new software business unit and the recent launch of our family of storage management software solutions, again, targeted at the midrange market." The name change reflects Overland's expanding strategy.
Adaptec has shipped the first sample of its Serial ATA RAID controller to four major OEMs, enabling the OEMs to test the technology. Serial ATA is an emerging technology designed to replace today's parallel ATA and provide inexpensive but high-performing technology for desktops, servers, and storage solutions. Adaptec's Serial ATA RAID controller supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, and 10. The controller is part of the company's software development kit (SDK) for OEMs and early adopters, which will help begin development of early Serial ATA products.
One advantage of Serial ATA is its low pin count. Adaptec's Serial ATA RAID controller requires 7 pins compared to parallel ATA's 40. The low pin count lets computer manufacturers develop systems with cables that are easier to route and install, help improve thermal designs, and facilitate smaller form-factor systems.
Gartner, a research firm, predicts that Serial ATA hard disk drives will grow from a market of less than 1 million units in 2002 to more than 300 million units in 2006. Gartner expects Serial ATA to become the dominant disk-drive connection in late 2004. Adaptec expects to ship its RAID card by the end of the year, around the same time Serial ATA drives are expected to appear on the market.
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(contributed by Bob Chronister, [email protected])
Q. Do you have any experience with Iomega's new Peerless FireWire or USB storage drives?
A. The Peerless drive systems consist of a base station and either a FireWire (IEEE 1394) or USB 1.1 interface module; I have one of each. The Peerless drives are good products.
If your machine doesn't already have a FireWire port, the USB drive is easier to install. However, the FireWire drive offers better performance—equal to some moderate-performance laptop hard disks, in my experience. Both drives perform well with Windows 2000; I haven't yet tried them with Windows XP. The equipment can be a little bulky to carry in a laptop bag but is affordable enough (less than $400 per bundle) to let you keep one drive at work and one drive at home. You can use either 10GB or 20GB Peerless disks with either drive interface. This capacity is sufficient for most notebook backup operations and simplifies data transportation.
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
Advanced Digital Information Corporation (ADIC) announced an enhanced version of the Pathlight 5000, a storage-networking appliance that features new failover capabilities. The appliance connects devices by using different protocols, lets dissimilar OSs share the same fabric, provides dynamic mapping between servers and disk volumes, and securely controls access. For pricing, contact ADIC at 425-881-8004 or 800-336-1233.
McDATA released SANavigator 3.0, Storage Area Network (SAN) management software that lets you discover, plan, configure, and manage your entire storage network from one desktop. SANavigator 3.0 features heterogeneous zoning of multiple devices, automation of tasks, SAN device and fabric-reporting capabilities, and ODBC data export functionality. For pricing, contact McDATA at [email protected] or 303-460-9200.
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