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Storage Group Eyes Advanced Functions, Lower Cost

Standardization among storage controllers, form factors and canisters moved forward today with the debut of the Storage Bridge Bay Working Group's (SBB) 2.0 specification.

Group leaders said SBB 2.0 would foster faster product development, reduce product costs and offer more than a few benefits to the end-user environment.

The spec defines mechanical, electrical and internal interfaces between a storage enclosure and the electronic cards that provide a subsystem's functionality, creating a common canister that supports higher-power components and high-density disk enclosures.

Adopting compliant enclosures and controller modules could enable a single chassis to offer a number of storage options -- like RAID or JBOD , network-attached storage and iSCSI.

The latest version of the specs could drive more storage choices and new technologies into market, Mark Hall, chairman of the SBB's marketing subgroup, told InternetNews.com.

The SBB aims to provide interoperability and help vendors develop and create more feature-rich products in a shorter production lifecycle -- reducing costs that could lower device price.

"It's targeted at developers and storage vendors to help shorten product development cycles and interoperability issues," Hall said. "It's not plug-and-play, but it should help integration get easier."

The first spec, 1.0, debuted in September 2006, just about seven months after four vendors formed the nonprofit group. Today, the association now boasts 43 storage industry players, with Sun being the latest to jump on the bandwagon. Other members include Dell, EMC, IBM, Xyratex, as well as Intel, NetApp, AMD, EqualLogic and Seagate.

With several 1.0 products already shipping and more expected with the 2.0 specification, Hall said group members are already seeing benefits from their participation in the SBB.

Xyratek experienced a 37 percent reduction in product development time with the 1.0 spec, and that number has jumped to 53 percent with 2.0, Hall said.

"It's already cutting costs in half and vendors can either pass that savings onto customer in terms of product price or provide more feature-rich products," Hall said.

"End users will have a wide range of tech choices when it comes to storage configuration," Hall said. "If they like one brand of chassis but another vendor's fibre channel, this specification provides for that possibility. It's a win for everyone."