If you're like most people, you probably put it to work immediately for your transactional data needs, used some of the space for backup purposes, and yet a little more for archival duties. Perhaps you even accounted for the additional space you'd need for these last two tasks when you originally purchased your storage solution. The problem is that backup and archival chores create relative dead zones in relation to your other storage needs. Space allocated for backup sits there like a lump while archival storage may enjoy occasional, but typically non-critical, access. While no one will argue that these are unnecessary data types, the case is easily made that they're wasting costly disk space, a condition that lowers your ROI and, when it comes time to add more storage, will negatively impact your TCO.
You could return to tape drives for backup. Of course, you'd also need to replace the huge cabinet that held your backup tapes--which you almost immediately tossed out once your brand-new storage solution arrived. And physically dealing with tapes again may be the final straw that sends you running and screaming. Be that as it may, tape wouldn't really solve your archival needs, either. So how do you deal with these less-than-desirable but necessary speeds bumps on your storage network? A new product from StorageTek--the BladeStore disk subsystem--may help smooth the road.
Storage blades in a BladeStore system are essentially blade servers with hard drives attached--not SCSI drives mind you, but rather, inexpensive IDE ATA drives. Though blindingly fast, SCSI drives can cost, on a comparative byte for byte basis, as much as three to four times more than IDE ATA drives. StorageTek's solution simply eschews SCSI hardware for less costly IDE drives, and uses a high-speed, dual-port, fibre-optic interface to your network, so there is a modicum of whiz-bang involved. But focus on the fact that, on average, IDE ATA drives list at somewhere between $0.01 and $0.02 per megabyte.
On a constant data-access basis SCSI wins the speed race hands-down, thanks to higher rotational speeds for disk platters. But backup and archival tasks don't require constant data access. Outside of benchmarking, it would even be difficult to tell the difference between backup and archival storage. That's why StorageTek claims its BladeStore is not only an effective backup and archival tool, but also that it toes the line for instant messaging, e-mail, and other electronic content communication--which, StorageTek forecasts, will account for nearly half of all business data by 2004. (Just thinking about recent federal mandates for saving e-mail says they're not off by much in that forecast.)
Here are the heavy metal stats for BladeStore's "intelligent blade architecture": five ATA drives per blade, 10 blades in a 6U rack, scales from 4TB to 160TB (expected to hit 12.5TB by Q103), and supports RAID 0, 1, 3, and 5. Your host or storage controllers will see the ATA drives as 10 high-capacity Fibre Channel drives (when addressing the maximum 6U configuration)--and, says StorageTek, it's compatible with every major operating environment from NT 4.0 to Red Hat Linux 6.
So let's summarize: small footprint, really inexpensive drives, lower power consumption than SCSI, overall lower cost, easy connectivity and integration, a run-anywhere management package with a GUI--and it frees up your high-speed critical storage solutions to do the job you paid exorbitantly for them to do. Are you still here? Shouldn't you be measuring the space occupied by your soon-to-be extinct tape cabinet for a wide-screen TV? (For video conferencing, of course.)