Usage guide to SATA and other low-cost disk drives

Do you want to know where to implement low-cost disk drives in your storage infrastructure? This guide can help you learn where Serial ATA and other low-cost disk technologies fit in a disk-to-disk or backup architecture. Included are a series of executive briefs for quick scanning of related articles and expert commentaries.

Editor's note: Serial ATA (SATA) has burst onto the storage scene with its fair share of fanfare. Many users, consultants and vendors have touted its wonders for curing the backup ills and expense you and your team may be currently experiencing with tape or more expensive disk subsystems. But, where is technology like SATA best suited? Whose claims can you believe? We've carefully selected the best of our research and expert advice...

on potential usage of low-cost disk. Take a few moments to scan these short, executive briefs in order to decide whether or not it's worth your while to read the full story.


Table of Contents

  1. Pick the right ATA array for backup
  2. Surprise! Cheap disks cure slow backup
  3. Killer serial: Is ATA ready for the enterprise?
  4. Serial ATA: Here, now
  5. Disk cost busters: How to leverage low-cost solutions
  6. Taking a look at ATA drive options in your storage system
  7. Serial ATA hard drives are coming, but when and where will they fit in?
  8. Serial ATA adoption ramping up
  9. Forums discussion on ATA performance; disk-to-disk backup
  10. Featured Topic: ATA makes inroads
  11. Think before you invest in disk-to-disk backup


1. Pick the right ATA array for backup
This Storage magazine in-depth report by backup expert W. Curtis Preston takes a careful look at some ways low-cost ATA arrays are being used as part of a backup architecture. Preston is a strong believer in using disk as a staging area for backups -- prior to their offload to tape and shares some common approaches here. Examples in this article include configurations with hardware-based RAID arrays, virtual tape library (VTL) appliances, and NAS devices based on ATA hardware.

2. Surprise! Cheap disks cure slow backup
W. Curtis Preston encapsulated his view of the role of "cheap" disk in this earlier story written for Storage magazine. Here, he describes how other inexpensive arrays, such as ATA- and IDE-based disk products, could be used to solve the most common backup/recovery dilemmas. Will these low-cost disk products truly revolutionize the expensive world of enterprise backup? Preston seems to think so, and makes a convincing case for them. Included is a handy compendium of low-cost disk vendors.

3. Killer serial: Is ATA ready for the enterprise?
Storage magazine contributor Carol Hildebrand assesses the truth and fiction behind the myriad vendor claims surrounding Serial ATA products. She also itemizes the key selling points in the technology and provides a laundry list of vendors who have SATA products on the market.

Serial ATA: Here, now
Do you want to know what analysts and some SATA drive makers see as the best fit for Serial ATA in your environment? According to this article, you should avoid its use for mission-critical data in your networked storage infrastructure. There are some issues with its lower meantime between failure (MTBF) rates, as compared to higher performance disk drives, but advisors say there's a chance for SATA to grow into more mission-critical applications down the road.

5. Disk cost busters: How to leverage low-cost solutions
Storage practice director Ron Lovell of Greenwich Technology Partners gave an overview to Storage Decisions conference attendees of where low-cost disk is best suited and what you can expect to pay. Read the above session review, and be sure to check out his accompanying slides.

6. Taking a look at ATA drive options in your storage system
Evaluator Group Partner and SearchStorage.com expert Randy Kerns offers a few words of both caution and optimism regarding the prospects of ATA drives.

7. Serial ATA hard drives are coming, but when and where will they fit in?
This earlier look at Serial ATA by SearchStorage.com news editor Kevin Komiega describes some of the emerging vendors in the space and provides analyst comment about why support for the technology was building momentum and areas where it is most likely to be put to use. For storage, this article implies a wide open playing field for potential SATA use with NAS, SAN and various backup architectures.

8. Serial ATA adoption ramping up
Are you using parallel ATA drives right now? Get ready, because the winds of change are soon to impact you. This article by Storage magazine editor Alex Barrett shares why you are likely to see a whole lot more Serial ATA drives by vendors, and a whole lot less parallel ATA drives in 2004 and beyond.

9. Forums discussion on ATA performance; disk-to-disk backup
A spirited debate ensued in our backup discussion forum about whether or not disk-to-disk backup using ATA or "cheap" disk was the way to go. This topic, and the claims by one poster about SATA's MTBF and duty cycles, certainly raised some ire amongst the other posters. Do you want to know what readers like you are thinking about SATA and its role in backups? This discussion thread is worth a read.

10. Featured Topic: ATA makes inroads
You'll find links here to many of the above stories, along with a host of other news items and technical advice related to ATA drives.

11. Think before you invest in disk-to-disk backup
SearchStorage.com columnist and author on disaster recovery planning issues, Jon William Toigo, shares a buyer-beware caveat on the new disk-to-disk paradigm being touted by vendors. He surveys most of what he's been seeing touted as new "disk-to-disk" solutions on the market, and cautions about some of the lesser-known challenges you may encounter when trying to switch from a tape environment.


Do you need more information on Serial ATA? Check out our SATA search results on SearchStorage.com.

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