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Wed 26 May 2004 04:00 AM

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HP to drive down cost of Storage Area Networking

HP is set to release a new generation of low cost fibre channel hard drives that combine high performance with cost effectiveness. The computing giant hopes the move will broaden the appeal of storage area networking (SAN) within the Middle East.

|~|hp-storageworks_m.jpg|~||~|HP is set to release a new generation of low cost fibre channel hard drives that combine high performance with cost effectiveness. The computing giant hopes the move will broaden the appeal of storage area networking (SAN) within the Middle East.

HP claims the drives are the industry’s first low cost-per-gigabyte, high-capacity fibre channel hard drives. The new fibre attached technology adapted drives will cost roughly 50% less per gigabyte than conventional fibre channel drives, according to HP’s estimates. The drives, which will be manufactured by Seagate, will offer capacity up to 250 gigabytes with a dual-port, 2Gbits/s, fibre channel interface. Expected to launch in July, the drives will be compatible with the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family.

The vendor is combining the higher capacity, lower cost drives with higher cost fibre channel interfaces. HP hopes this will provide an attractive pay-off for users between cost effectiveness and performance. The new hard drives are designed to help customers drive down SAN costs and simplify SAN integration and management for local companies by ustilising industry standards.

“HP is broadening the appeal of storage area networks by eliminating some of the barriers to entry,” says Bob Schultz, senior vice president & general manager of HP’s network storage solutions division. “For instance, the ability to offer tiered storage within a single storage system and enable simplified integration through support of industry standards lowers the price for SAN implementations — making them more attractive to a broader range of customers,” he adds.Enterprises usually have different infrastructures running at the critical and basic reference ends of their network, due to contrasting demands in performance and reliability.

Deploying fibre channel drives to handle basic reference data could, in theory, mean that an enterprise has a common fibre channel infrastructure, which will bring easier system management along with added flexibility and greater scalability.

Arguably, HP is swimming with the tide here as many sources suggest that SAN is well on its way to flooding the storage market. IDC predicts that revenue for SAN systems will exceed the combined value of network attached storage (NAS) and direct attached storage (DAS) shipments in 18 of 20 vertical markets in the US by 2007.

SAN has traditionally been an expensive option and while its benefits of pooled storage resources mean it’s an expense many enterprises are willing to swallow, it is simply too much of a mouthful for smaller businesses. This move by HP and similar moves by other vendors could see the market open up.

Another example is Dell, which has introduced Serial ATA drives as an option within a SAN. The drives offer increased capacity at a reduced cost.

“We also see technology enhancements in the next generation of servers removing processing bottlenecks to components. Overall the biggest customer initiative is towards storage consolidation as companies are recognising the importance of data and are restructuring their infrastructure to protect it. To this end we are seeing significant growth in the SAN market,” says Jim McMahon, enterprise business manager, Dell.

Dell’s SAN revenues grew 64.6% year on year in Q4 2003, while its NAS market revenues grew at a more modest growth rate of 18.6%, with sequential growth of 6.8% year-on-year.||**||

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