Compaq ships new storage product with recycling in mind

Compaq Computer on Thursday released a storage system designed to let users recycle some of their old hardware while upgrading to a more flexible storage server.

Compaq has started shipping the StorageWorks Modular SAN Array 1000 in an attempt to attract customers who want to move from a DAS (direct-attached storage) environment and build a storage area network (SAN). With the new storage unit, users will be able to take disk drives that are directly attached to a Compaq ProLiant server and install them in the MSA1000. The disk drives and the applications on them will be recognized by the MSA1000 on installation, which should save users time and money, said Roger Archibald, vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Storage Array Division at Compaq.

Moving from direct-attached storage to a SAN setup tends to give users more flexibility in managing their data. In a DAS model, a storage unit and server are connected point-to-point via a cable. A SAN architecture adds in a switching network to connect multiple servers and storage. This means users can, for example, expand the amount of storage available to a particular server without shutting key systems down.

Compaq is looking to make the move from DAS to SAN as simple as possible and added the drive-swapping capability for this reason, according to one analyst.

"If you are Compaq today, you have an installed base with lots of direct attached storage," said Jamie Gruener, analyst at the Yankee Group Inc. in Boston. "You make migrating to a SAN easier by being able to plug existing drives into the new array."

The MSA1000 is available with an optional embedded Fibre Channel switch that can transfer data at up to 2G bytes per second, Archibald said.

An entry-level configuration of the MSA1000 that stores 1.5T bytes of data will start at close to US$40,000.

The MSA1000 is the first product from Compaq to use the company's drive-swapping technology. The company has embarked on a sweeping program in its storage division to convert users from DAS to SAN and will release more products with the technology in the future.

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