In an attempt to capitalize on its long-standing leadership position in the SCSI world, Adaptec Inc. has taken the somewhat unusual step of introducing an entire line of SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) products simultaneously.
Adaptecs introduction of a full line of SAS products is a nod to the transition the entire industry is undergoing from parallel SCSI to SAS, said Tim Connolly, vice president of the data protection solutions group for the Milpitas, Calif.-based company.
"SAS is the next step, and its a continuation of our SCSI product line," he said. "Our objective is to bring out solutions that are known to interoperate and have the right cabling, enclosures, etc. to do so."
Although this is the first time Adaptec has released a full line of SAS products, its not the first time the company has sold SAS-based components.
IBM, which shipped the first server in January with SAS technology, included in its offering Adaptecs SAS chips, RAID boards, RAID software and management software.
Other OEMs also have used Adaptecs SAS technology in their offerings. This is the first time, however, that Adaptec is selling its SAS products through its reseller channel, Connolly said.
Adaptecs SAS suite includes four server optimized products, a suite of data protection software, and two external storage offerings.
Chief among the server optimized offerings is the 48300 SAS HBA (host bus adapter), a serial version of Adaptecs existing parallel SCSI cards.
The HBAs have eight 3GB per second SAS or SATA ports, external and internal connectors, a striping feature that bolsters performance of audio/video streaming and a mirroring capability for boot and data device protection.
Other server optimized products include the 4800SAS and 4805SAS RAID cards, with up to eight SAS or SATA ports; internal and external connectors; support for RAID arrays up to 512TB; standard RAID levels 0, 1, 10, 5 and 50; hot swap; hot spares, online RAID migration; online capacity expansion and optimized disk utilization.
The final server optimized product is the Storage Enclosure 335SAS, with a 3.5-inch 4-bay internal enclosure and both SAS and SATA drives.
External storage offerings include the SANbloc 5000f RAID Subsystem, a Fibre Channel-to-SAS RAID subsystem in a 2U 12-drive system with 3GB SAS or SATA hard disk drives that scales up to 108 drives; and the SANbloc S50 JBOD, a SAS-to-SAS JBOD storage array with 3GB SAS or SATA hard drives that scales up to 108 drives.
All products ship with Adaptecs standard storage management software—a feature that sets Adaptec apart from its competitors, said Brian Babineau, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.
"You can install, configure and manage all of the products in this portfolio announcement with the same software that ships with the product," he said. "That storage management consistency is definitely something customers need." Adaptecs SAS Advanced Protection Suite also is somewhat of a differentiator for Adaptec, offering the ability to spread the hot spare disk space across an array; dual-drive failure protection; and a striped mirror capability that creates a RAID-1 across more than two drives.
In addition, the suite includes Snapshot Backup, which allows users to manage data backups by taking point-in-time snapshots and copying them to tape or disk backup without taking arrays off line.
It also has Copyback Hot Spare, which allows users to designate a hot spare that can be used to help an array reconstruct its original configuration after a drive failure.
But the biggest weapon Adaptec has in its arsenal, Babineau said, is its comprehensive approach to the market—one that provides not only a full line of SCSI-based products, but is backed with significant technical training and expertise about the differences in connectivity options.
"It isnt so much the amount of products Adaptec is announcing, its the fact that it will have some education and customer service resources available so customers can be educated on why they need to make certain decisions," he said.
"They are ready for the transition, but arent forcing it on anyone. They arent end-of-lifing any of their product portfolio from the SCSI standpoint; they are just adding new products so customers can choose what best fits their environments."
Adaptecs strategy could give it the leg up it needs to become a pre-eminent force in the SAS world, Babineau said.
"Most of their competitors—disk drive interface vendors, chip vendors and controller manufacturers—are product-specific, so they are just going to announce the next generation of products when they are available and eventually phase out older products," he said.
"But Adaptec is a bit broader and agile enough to keep the older stuff while introducing new technology and providing the framework to allow customers to make their own decisions."