Feature

HP kit gives 8Gb/sec FC a boost

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HP'S STORAGEWORKS 8Gb Simple SAN Connection Kit is the first 8Gb/sec Fibre Channel (FC) SAN aimed at remote offices and small- and medium-sized businesses.

The FC SAN can support up to four hosts and, if you don't add in the cost of the storage, pricing comes to a little more than $1,000 a port. "A fairly aggressive price considering the newness of the [8Gb/sec FC] technology," says Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group, Stillwater, MN.

For $8,199, you receive an 8/20q FC Switch (eight ports enabled; upgradeable to 12, 16 or 20 ports), Simple SAN Connection Manager software, four PCI-e FC host bus adapters (HBAs), cables, 10 8Gb/sec Short Wave SFP+ optical transceivers for the HBAs, and wizard-driven software to install/manage the SAN and to provision the array.

But don't expect 8Gb/sec throughput from the switch to storage. HP's Simple SAN Connection Kit only works with its 4Gb/sec Enterprise Virtual Arrays (EVAs) and 2Gb/sec and 4Gb/sec Modular Smart Arrays (MSAs), which means self-configuring ports must slow down to accommodate the array's slower speeds.

Sherry Davenport, SAN infrastructure marketing at HP, says the 8Gb/sec storage arrays won't be released until 2009, but believes "it's wise to prepare for 8Gb/sec now, in easy-to-manage stages."

Richard L. Villars, VP, storage systems at Framingham,

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MA-based IDC, concurs. "With continued levels of consolidation and the use of more powerful multicore servers ... the move to 8Gb/sec makes perfect sense," he says. "2008 is the logical time to begin the transition to the next generation of FC."

As data continues to grow, the need for speedier SANs becomes more apparent. Going from 4Gb/sec to 8Gb/sec lets you back up twice the amount of data in the same window and reduce disk-to-disk replication times. New storage-hogging apps, such as streaming media and online HD video, are becoming more prevalent. And 8Gb/sec makes it possible to double the number of virtual machines (VMs) per server without reducing the throughput of each VM.

Moving from 4Gb/sec to 8Gb/sec FC isn't a total out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new migration, but a start-and-stop process. According to Schulz, the HP 8Gb Simple SAN Connection Kit "lays the groundwork for moving forward [to other 8Gb/sec devices]."

This was first published in April 2008

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