Intel Corp has grouped together with a range of disk array makers to standardize the slots in disk arrays into which its controller motherboards fit, and has managed to recruit all of the volume array makers excepting Hewlett-Packard Co.
The standardization effort has been christened the Storage Bridge Bay Working Group, and so far includes Intel, EMC Corp, Dell Corp, LSI Logic Corp – and by extension its array-making subsidiary Engenio Technologies Inc – Adaptec Inc, Dot Hill Systems Corp, Seagate Technology LLC, and Xyratex Corp, and other suppliers.
That is a very fair coverage of the mid-range and low-end disk array market, given that Engenio is an OEM supplier of much of IBM Corp and Sun Microsystems Inc’s mid-range line-up, Adaptec is an OEM array supplier to IBM, Dot Hill is an OEM array supplier to Sun and NetApp, and Xyratex is also an OEM array supplier to NetApp.
The biggest elephant in the room but not on the membership list is HP, which has a huge share of the low end and mid-range array market, selling boxes it makes itself.
A spokeswoman for Dell claimed that for legal reasons, the SBB was unable to say whether it had invited HP or any other supplier to join the group. The spokeswoman could not say which law would be broken by such a revelation.
HP itself does not seem to know if it was invited or not. More than twenty-fours after ComputerWire made its first call to the company about the subject, HP was still unable to say whether it had been snubbed by the SBB, or had rejected an invitation, or had simply lost it down the back of a radiator. IBM was also unable to say whether or not it had been invited, or make any sort of comment.
Intel said that the standard will eliminate the mundane work of designing an interface between a disk array and a motherboard, which contains controllers inside a cannister.
Driving inefficiencies out of the industry can expand the TAM [total addressable market], which is good for Intel, and good for everybody, said Intel’s marketing director Seth Bobroff.
The standard is at version 0.6 at present, and the group hopes to complete version 1.0 before the end of June.
Bobroff said that the SBB has so far focused on the low-end and mid-range because the volumes there will deliver the biggest payoff. But he also said that at the high end of the market where disk arrays use multiple controllers, technical issues such as heat management could make it harder to agree on a standard.