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The Survivor's Guide to 2004: Storage and Servers
Another trend that should make you smile: The price of storage and storage networking hardware is falling dramatically. There was a time when only the largest organizations could afford networked storage. Now, smaller companies are demanding some of the benefits of storage networking, and vendors are responding with lower-priced products, though not just from the goodness of their hearts. The impetus: ATA-based storage (parallel ATA or Serial ATA) is surging into the mainstream for both near-line purposes and nontransactional storage. On the networking side, competition among Fibre Channel vendors and a looming threat from iSCSI and Ethernet/IP storage-based networks is adding pressure.
Mind you, not every small business requires a full-blown SAN (storage-area network)--SAS (serial-attached SCSI) can suffice in some situations. Still, we'll see a profusion of new products next year designed and priced to help companies with their storage needs, from management and reporting to capacity and speed.
Other segments of the storage market are on the move, too. Electrical limitations, cable bulk and costs have brought traditional parallel SCSI to the end of its useful life, and SAS is the replacement for Ultra320 SCSI, the last parallel version of the protocol. SAS boasts a simplified physical layer--it shares a common physical layer with SATA (Serial ATA). This, coupled with new silicon that will handle both SATA and SAS, lets vendors design one box and sell the customer whichever storage is appropriate for its application. The result is significant cost savings for vendors and increased flexibility for customers. Look for the first SAS boxes in early 2004.
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