Seagate

Servers for Sale!

by dave on October 20, 2008


From time to time, I like to clean out some of the “older” hardware lying around the lab.  So, for your perusal today, I’ve got 3 servers that are going to be up for grabs (complete with the requisite Paypal/GoogleCheckout links).  Click on through to see the descriptions and pricing.

Note:  Each of these servers has run VMWare ESX 3.5 (up to Update 2) without issue.  The two AMD boxes, in particular, have at least 6 months of uptime between them except for minor hardware upgrades done along the way.  VERY impressive boxes to use with ESX.

[click to continue…]

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More on the SAS vs. Fibre debate

by dave on March 25, 2008


Connectivity Reliability

At some point, I had typed in a bit about the physical interfaces present on both the SAS and Fibre drives. I appears that I ran roughshod over that particular point which, upon thinking about it, is a very important dimension of drive reliability.

As noted previously, SAS drives use an amended SATA data+power connectivity schema. Instead of a notch between the data and power connections as present on SATA drives, SAS drives simply “bridge” that gap with an extra helping of plastic. This not only turns the somewhat flimsy SATA connectors into a more robust solution, it also requires that the host connector support that bridging. Interesting note here is that the SAS host connector supports SATA drives but SATA host connectors will not support SAS. This is somewhat assuaged by various host implementations (i.e. using a SAS connector on a backplane with discrete SATA data connectivity from the backplane to the mainboard) but generally, this is the rule. The SAS drives feature a male connectivity block which is mated to a female SAS connectivity block on the host system. Pretty basic stuff.

Fibre drives, on the other hand, use a SCA (single connector edge) medium that is again male on the drive side and female on the host side. Definitely more simplistic in design and implementation (and is featured within all current EMC arrays) and honestly, when push comes to shove, something I would trust inherently more with protection. The same idea is present with SCA80 Ultra320 SCSI drives as well. The fitment here is definitely more secure with less design stress placed on the physical connector (and thusly the PCB itself) than with the SAS solution.

There are always caveats with distinct designs, however, and I’d like to highlight some below.
a.) The SAS data+power connector is inherently MORE secure than the standard SATA interface. Truth be told, I’ve broken SATA data connectors. It’s really not hard since the data connection is a discrete “tab” from the power interface (which I’ve broken as well). The addition of the plastic “bridge” between data and power connections on SAS drives promotes a stronger bond between the connector (whether that be SFF or backplane based) and the drive itself. It also keeps folks from mistakenly connecting SAS drives to SATA ports. 😉
b.) The SAS interface is still prone to breakage as compared to SCA40/80 connections. There’s a reason why we do a conversion within our drive caddies from SATA to Fibre (outside of the obvious protocol translation and sniffer obligations): it’s more secure. The mating mechanism within the SCA interface provides no single point of stress on the connector as there is a nesting process that takes place. Not so with the SAS interface: you have a significant protrusion into the caddy area that, if improperly aligned, can cause damage. If you misalign the SCA interface, you can’t make the connection and there’s no protrusion difficulties.

Note: The good news in all of this (at least from my perspective @ EMC) is that we’re not going to allow you to screw this connectivity up. 😉 We mount the drives in our carriers, put them in the array and, well, we’ve got you covered. 😉

In any case, this is really for further clarification from yesterday’s post. Hopefully that will give a little more food for thought.

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On Iomega (and other musings)

by dave on March 20, 2008


So, for due diligence purposes, I’m going to remind you to read that little disclaimer stuck in the upper right hand corner of this blog. Since that little bit is over with, let’s get on with the rest of this blog.

DailyTech – EMC Walks Back to Iomega With Revised Offer for Acquisition

If you read the above link (and about 15,000 other links that you can find over @ Google News on the same subject), you’ll see that EMC is starting the “takeover dance” with a little company called Iomega. Iomega, if you remember, was that fiesty little company that tried to get rid of the floppy by introducing the Zip drive, etc. Then came the Jaz drive, the Rev drive, and suddenly, Iomega was basically buried by the pervasive optical drive market. People didn’t care about “hard drive like speeds” on the Jaz and Rev. They were awkward, required specialized hardware (vs. CDs/DVDs which were pretty much record/play anywhere) and they were priced beyond parity with CD/DVD burners.

Flashing forward, they decided to dilute their strengths by playing with NAS and other DAS storage technologies, again at disadvantageous pricing levels and weaker performance than, say, whitebox vendors like Enhance Technology, D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, etc. All in all, they quickly relegated themselves to market followers from a leadership position.

So, why is EMC going after Iomega? Surely they’ve studied brand recognition and penetration and have realized that beyond pitiful market performance (sales and revenue) that there is a certain air of distinction when “Iomega” is heard. For similar comparison, I guess, you could look at the purchase of Linksys by Cisco and how that has managed to maintain profitibility without dilution of the core branding. Conversely, you could look at AMD’s purchase of ATI Technologies and the struggle they’ve had to maintain profitability and market share since then. However, I’m going to come right out and say it: I don’t think that this move is at all a good idea. Here are a couple of points where I think this all falls apart.

a.) EMC prides itself on having a solid portfolio of performance oriented hardware. Some have come through acquisition (Clariion) and some are “homegrown” (Symmetrix). To that end, Iomega’s current position of whiteboxing other people’s hardware seems to be almost a tertiary acquisition of IP and too far down the line to really add value to the overall EMC product portfolio. Almost contradictory to the overall mission of EMC to manage a customer’s information with both quality and performance. A continuation of a whitebox agreement with Intel (a name almost synonymous with “performance” and “hardware”) would do much better.

b.) EMC is trying to move into the SMB space using their reputation for enterprise excellence. Why would you purchase an inferior product when you’re trying to strengthen your overall image within the SMB space? EMC Fortress was a good move with EMC solidifying a tailor-made product that the SMB world could affordably attain. Why EMC would want to re-engineer and re-invent the wheel with Iomega is beyond me. It’ll do more harm than good. They’ll need to redo their software (which is terrible), redo their hardware (which is terrible), and basically restructure the company into an EMC Jr. (time, expense, and…well, profitability dips doing that.) Again, for comparison purposes, Cisco, when it took over Linksys, gained a company with a solid reputation, a solid and profitable portfolio of products, and had little work to do to re-brand and promote.

c.) EMC has better purchasing options available in the SMB focused storage field. Looking at Iomega as a strictly “dilution” oriented brand purchase, what else is out there for purchase? I can think of a few different companies and alliances:
i.) Intel. Not a purchase but an alliance. Take Fortress one step further. Get into the hardware with them. Intel makes the core logic cpus and ASICs that we use (along with many others) and knows how to maintain profitability in a variety of key verticals.
ii.) Buffalo Technology. Buffalo has a VERY good reputation amongst SMB users that I’ve dealt with and again, has a VERY diversified portfolio of storage and IP based products. It’s a PERFECT fit within the EMC market. It also has international reach.
iii.) Enhance Technology. Enhance is an awkward bird when it operates by itself. However, if it had the correct strategy and corporate guidance, it would have tremendous reach. Not only are its product EXCEPTIONALLY well made, they have performance and OEM designs taken care of already. With EMC’s corporate disk alliances (Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate), it would be incredibly easy for EMC to incorporate and re-brand their products into EMC SMB.

Anyhow, these are my thoughts for now. Again, reference the disclaimer above as these are MY opinions, not EMCs.

cheers,

Dave

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Wherefore Art Thou, 2.5” Enterprise Drives?

August 30, 2007

Continuing with the somewhat “green” theme of the last several blog entries here, I wanted to loft the next softball into play: 2.5″ Enterprise drives. Seagate makes them, Hitachi makes them,and Fujitsu makes them. They’re available in SAS, Fibre, and SATA and feature 7.2K, 10K, and 15K spindle speeds. They consume less […]

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