This year's spring edition of SNW will be about to close -- or will have already closed -- its doors by the time you read this column, but it's still steaming full speed ahead while I write.
I'll save the postmortem wrap-up for next week, but my marine metaphor reminds me that not everything happens on the show floor here at SNW -- and I'm not talking about executives chatting it up during a round of golf.
Instead, Bell Microproducts took to the sea and chose a real vessel moored in the beautiful San Diego Bay -- instead of an SNW booth -- to demo its new Hammer line of entry-level storage devices. Renamed the "SS Zetera" -- appropriate because the devices are based on Zetera's Z-SAN technology -- for the show's duration, the yacht is certainly one of the most scenic demo spaces I've ever seen at an SNW show.
Back on land, I was enthralled by two revolutionary new products, starting with the SAS (serial attached SCSI) switch that LSI Logic announced last week.
The newborn switch connects hosts and storage devices using the SAS protocol exclusively, creating an interesting alternative to using FC (Fibre Channel) for short-range storage networks.
SAS switches are a perfect complement to all the other novelties recently brought under this technology's umbrella, including HBAs (host bus adapters), RAID controllers, and disk drives. Because of their compatibility with SAS, I'll also add SATA (serial ATA) devices to that bunch.
These all-SAS storage networks promise to be more efficient -- no adapters to do protocol conversions -- and less expensive than hybrid systems that combine FC connectivity with SAS and SATA drives. Just imagine: You could build storage networks where data flows from hosts to disk drives without ever leaving the ubiquitous SAS protocol.
Will other vendors follow LSI Logic down the SAS switching path? It's quite possible, because the technology has a well-defined road map and is mounting considerable momentum.
Here's why: You may have never heard of Agami, but this startup began shipping NAS appliances based on AMD CPUs last year. Moreover, Agami has deep roots in storage.
"We bought the software stack from a company called Zambeel that went out of business a few years ago, and that became the genesis of what Agami is today," says John Wernke, vice president of marketing at Agami. "We took that software stack that was built for a high-end HPC solution and figured out how to run it on commodity hardware."
And as for that AMD connection, "David Stiles, our vice president of engineering, is basically the father of the Opteron chip set," Wernke explains. "He was at a company called NexGen that was then bought by AMD."