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Vol. 7 No. 5 July 2008

HBAs finally getting some respect

The letters H-B-A represent the term host bus adapter, but they could just as well stand for "Hardly Been Acknowledged" or "Has Been Anonymous." But things are changing with the latest generation of HBAs. An HBA--the interface card that connects a host computer to a Fibre Channel SAN--is pretty much invisible. In your storage infrastructure, you'll see arrays, switches, cables and subsystems, but nary an HBA, which is embedded in the server and may even come factory installed. Adding to their Rodney Dangerfield "I don't get no respect" image, HBAs have the reputation of being "unsophisticated widgets," admits Herman Chao, director of product management with Brocade's server division. "You turn it on, configure it once and you're done," he says. "For an administrator installing a SAN, the big ticket item is the storage they buy from an EMC," adds Amit Vashi, QLogic's VP of marketing. "Then they buy the servers, then the switches. The last thing they think about is the HBA." But the underappreciated HBA may finally be getting its ...

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Features in this issue

  • Solid State: New frontier for storage

    Solid-state media is starting to show up as an option for traditional storage arrays because it offers higher performance and lower power consumption. However, there are still reliability concerns related to wear out, the slower write performance of flash cells, and issues related to array management and interoperability.

  • DLT-S4 tape drives at bargain prices

  • Here comes 8Gig Fibre Channel

    New 8Gb/sec host bus adapters (HBAs) and switch devices have started arriving. But with storage arrays incorporating the new, higher speed technology still months away, end-to-end 8Gb storage infrastructures are still in the planning stages. Storage managers can get a jump on their 8Gig configurations by upgrading switches and HBAs now, or by considering networking gear that supports Fibre Channel over Ethernet.

  • Server blades and storage

    by  Ellen O'Brien

    Many IT shops are moving from traditional rack-mounted servers to blade configurations in hopes of reducing power and floor space requirements in their data centers. But combining blade architectures with server virtualization can cause problems with I/O and storage systems.

Columns in this issue