When IBM’s AdStar unit announced a new disk drive and controller for its mainframes late last month, it also said it was planning to develop a disk array for its large systems. The array would be RAID 5+, which we took to mean (as there is no official definition of this phrase) a device that […]
When IBM’s AdStar unit announced a new disk drive and controller for its mainframes late last month, it also said it was planning to develop a disk array for its large systems. The array would be RAID 5+, which we took to mean (as there is no official definition of this phrase) a device that provides a great deal of data security without sacrificing response time. The form in which AdStar’s promise was made is called by the company a statement of direction. This intrigued us. We had the impression – wrong in this case, as it turned out – that IBM’s statements of direction were ways of telling customers that the company was aware of an emerging need and was going to do something about it, sometime. But when we made contact with AdStar in the vain hope of learning a bit more about the forthcoming disk array than we already knew, we were told that a statement of direction isn’t what we thought at all. A statement of direction, as understood by one AdStar executive, was a signal that something would happen within a year. Somewhat frustrated, we pointed out that AdStar’s saying it was developing disk arrays was not exactly a piece of news. Of course AdStar is working on disk arrays. Everyone in the disk business is working on disk arrays. Even the companies that sell only raw drives are trying to develop gadgets that will accelerate the industry’s migration to the new technology. What we sought was guidance we might pass to our readers… and none was forthcoming. Here is where it stands for the time being: AdStar wishes it had a working disk array right now. It doesn’t and it might not have one until 1994. It has or will soon have 3.5 disks that are suitable for use in an array.
By Adam Page
They will have 3 Gigabytes of capacity and a very high mean time between failure. AdStar believes the disks will be the best in the industry and we have no reason to doubt this. Even more capacious disks are under development and AdStar will offer them as components in its planned array. The array will plug into 3990-6 disk controllers, adding an extra level of hardware to large systems. But eventually AdStar might allow arrays to attach directly to channels. This is still a matter for speculation, not planning. AdStar’s initial array, barring a breakthrough, is likely to be slower than 3390-3 disks and more expensive per unit of capacity, too. AdStar will justify its price and performance on the basis of its security. In the meantime, AdStar will be selling the disks it has already announced in competition with both announced and expected products from makers of arrays and traditional storage subsystems. AdStar will claim very high reliability for its disks, particularly the new 3390-9, but only when asked. AdStar would understandably rather not have customers think about disk failures when 8.5 Gigabytes are at risk in each drive. Summing it all up into a single impression, we were somewhat saddened. We think AdStar will have the right product but the wrong attitude. Instead of being a bit sheepish about its late arrival and defensive (as expressed by low prices) about the necessary limitation of venturing into new territory, AdStar will be overconfident. And we don’t think AdStar will react fast enough to avoid stumbling in a market sector that will be very closely watched by customers and competitors.
From the June 1993 issue of Infoperspectives International, published by Technology News Ltd, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London NW1 8JA Copyright (C) 1993 Technology News Ltd.