StorCase Makes Case for SATA

Builds enclosure for both Serial ATA and SCSI drives. One small step for SATA in the enterprise?

July 19, 2003

3 Min Read
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Storage hardware maker StorCase Technology Inc. says it will start shipping its new Serial ATA RAID enclosures next week, laying another brick -- if just a small brick -- on the road to enterprise adoption of SATA technology.

While there has been plenty of hype about the potential for SATA to replace more expensive SCSI and Fibre Channel disk technologies, the lack of infrastructure surrounding the drives has put a damper on the enthusiasm. Since the SATA hard drives, which began shipping in the market in 2002, don't fit into available SCSI drive slots, theyve required specialty-built storage systems.

Now, however, StorCase says it has found the solution, claiming that the new addition to its SCSI backplane enclosures is specifically designed to support Serial ATA for RAID applications. The new InfoStation 12-bay drive enclosure includes a RAID controller, supplied by Accusys Inc., and provides features that allow it to support both parallel ATA and SATA drives. The enclosure supports SCSI Ultra 160 hosts, and the company claims that future models will also support Fibre Channel.

"This enclosure will handle parallel ATA, consumer SATA, or enterprise SATA," says Cameron Crandall, StorCase’s Technical services manager. "When you compare Serial ATA to SCSI, the performance is slightly less, but the price difference is considerable." He adds that Serial ATA costs less than half of a comparably configured SCSI solution.

StorCase, a division of memory maker Kingston Technology Co. Inc. that was spun off in 2000, builds enclosures for products ranging from desktops to RAID solutions. It entered the low-end Serial ATA market in March 2003 with the release of its SATA-interface removable hard drive enclosure for PCs, workstations, and servers.The company says, with the addition of a RAID controller, its new InfoStation enclosure allows it to address the high-reliability and performance needs of the enterprise space. InfoStation also provides the option to install a tape drive, allowing for the creation of a complete disk backup system, Crandall says.

Western Digital Corp. (NYSE: WDC), which recently launched its Raptor enterprise-class SATA disk drive for servers and storage systems, is working with StorCase on the enclosures (see Western Digital Hatches Raptor).

"Getting Serial ATA into the enterprise is probably one of the most important changes in the industry over the past 25 years," says Ted Deffenbaugh, Western Digital’s senior director of product marketing. "And the secret sauce for what allows you to get an enterprise piece of storage is having the right type of case... We just simply believe that we’re seeing the filling out of the Serial ATA infrastructure."

Industry observers say StorCase’s offering provides another proof point that the industry is serious about enabling the new technology. "The prospect of using ATA in the enterprise is certainly very well documented," says IDC analyst Dave Reinsel. "This is another data point showing that people are trying to enable it."

IDC forecasts that SATA will make up nearly half of the enterprise disk drive market by 2006.Other companies working on similar enclosures include Chenbro Micom, Promise Technology Inc., InforTrend, and JMR Electronics.

— Eugénie Larson, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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