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HP Adds Hybrid Fibre Drive to Storage Diet

HP Monday said it has struck a balance between quality and cost with a new hard disk drive that splices the performance and reliability of fibre channel technology with lower cost parameters of iSCSI.

Co-developed with HDD maker Seagate, the hybrid disk drive -- dubbed Fibre Attached Technology Adapted -- combines lower cost disk drive technology with a Fibre Channel interface. Fibre channel is traditionally employed in high-end enterprise environments and is often costly, but HP has found a way to offer its fibre functionality on the cheap.

According to Kyle Fitze, director of marketing for HP's online storage division, the new drives are geared to help customers shuttle data between low-cost and high-performance disk drives within a single storage system.

Fitze told internetnews.com the hybrid drive is designed for fibre channel environments and storage area network (SAN) deployments where abundant storage and lower price per gigabyte are more important than access time. The drive allows users to store and access less critical or infrequently used data without the cost associated with fibre channel drives.

"This is for any company that is struggling with the explosive growth of data and is looking for a more cost-effective way to store their data but doesn't want to sacrifice the reliability they're accustomed to and doesn't don't want to spend as much money on storing data if it's less frequently used," Fitze said.

In this day and age, that pretty much describes every business. But one example is that of a hospital, which stores patients records. If that patient's file is not currently being used, it can be shuttle to less costly storage, or moved to more functional storage when it is in use with the new HP/Seagate drive.

The drive is a product of an ongoing trend in the storage sector to give customers enterprise-class capability at lower price points. One of the ways to do that is to create a scenario where data center managers can move data from high-cost storage, such as fibre channel, to lower cost storage capabilities, such as iSCSI.

HP, IBM, EMC, VERITAS Software and others are all working toward this goal for customers.

Fitze said the Fibre Channel interface allows the new drives to be plugged directly into HP StorageWorks EVA Fibre Channel drive enclosures, which provide dual ported data paths all the way to the drives to help businesses avoid down time that comes with single ported Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) disk drives.

Moreover, HP's new hybrid drives do not require customers to convert from a Fibre Channel to a Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interface or to a Parallel ATA (PATA) interface, which saves time and money.

Available in July, the Fibre Attached Technology Adapted drives will offer capacity up to 250 GB with a dual-port, 2Gb/second, Fibre Channel interface.

In related news, HP moved to beef up its SAN provisions with new software to geared improve SAN fabric interoperability. The HP StorageWorks SAN director 2/128 B-series switch provides the high availability and high performance features required in data center SAN implementations.

The Palo Alto, Calif. systems vendor also said its IP Storage Router 2122-2 now supports Fibre Channel Internet Protocol along with iSCSI to help customers link disparate servers to storage networks.