More on backplanes …

March 11, 2013

There are two different types of backplanes in this world – passive and active. Passive are just really devices that allow a connection between the drive and card – there is no expander involved.

Active backplanes on the other hand have an expander – a chip device made by third-party vendors to the backplane vendor. These expanders have firmware and intelligence and allow connection of many drives from a much smaller number of ports on a raid card.

So what is the issue here? … compatibility.

Sometimes you’ll plug a card into a backplane, plug in the drives, boot up the system and not see any drives. If this happens to you don’t panic. Contact your nearest Adaptec Tech Support office or go to, describe your card and backplane model and ask the Adaptec Tech’s if they have an updated firmware for the card to get around the problem – they almost always do.

Why does this happen? Well, there are standards and there are standards, and there are companies that do some odd little things just outside the standard so that a competitor who adheres to the standard won’t work with their product. I’m not talking Adaptec here – we’re the ones on the side of the standard. Sometimes you could suspect people trying to stop our products from working with certain products because they know we stick to the standard … no wait, that would be ridiculously suspicious and paranoid of me wouldn’t it?

So if you have an issue with a backplane, contact us and let us help.

(special award for the person who can tell me where that name comes from – in relation to my paranoidness/depression :-))


Back to the future …

March 11, 2013

I wonder if Steven Spielberg had any idea what a phrase that would become …

Adaptec have taken up the idea and released a new series of HBAs. So what is an HBA I hear you ask out there in Channel storage land? A Host Bust Adapter of course. Think back to the 90s … Adaptec made SCSI controllers – simple devices that connected hard drives to your computer so that you could do things with them. They didn’t do RAID, they just showed a disk to the computer and you did what you wanted from there.

Step forward 20 years and we’re back in the same game. In fact, it never really went away but we just didn’t bother with it. Well now we have bothered and have produced a thumping powerful HBA product range that does … well in fact it does just what the old SCSI HBA did 20 years ago – it presents a bunch of single disks to the computer, and you do what you want from there.

So who would want one of these things? Surely you want a RAID card so you can do all that wonderful technical stuff in the background and not have to bother with it at OS or application level? Well no, not really. The datacenters of this world love these things. The big players in the world do their own redundancy and performance work at a much higher level than a RAID card – often even across system or datacenter levels, so they love these things.

Products like ZFS don’t mind HBA too much either. Take a bunch of disks and do your own storage configs – you don’t need a RAID card, you just need connecting to lots of different types of drives – something the HBA does perfectly.

So are we the only players in this game? Did we just stumble across this and think … hmm, can we make a buck of out this business. This is big business with big competition, but that just happens to be what we love.



So who is responsible for big data? …

March 11, 2013

All I ever hear about these days is “big data”. It’s a like saying “old Neil” – pretty much a natural consequence of getting out of bed each day.

Big data is a nice term trying to point out that we have lots of data, and we are more and more often putting it in the cloud (that invisible thing out there in la-la land). I do, and while pushing that data out there I’ve made an interesting (and somewhat obvious) observation.

Big data in my place is photography. I have a mac (great machine), which stores all my family data. These days that consists of music (not as dominant as it used to be) and photos. Once upon a time video was the big driver of space in my systems, but now it’s still photos. How do I know all this? The mac has a fantastic component called “time machine” which is very similar in nature to say ShadowProtect (which many of you server lads would be familiar with) – the ability to roll back to a certain point in time etc, while keeping a copy of all your data on an external device (in my case a USB drive) in case the hard drive in the mac takes a powder.

But is that safe enough? Not for me, so I purchase some space up in the cloud and make a copy of my data to that location. Because I’m anal and somewhat organised (at least I like to think so), I’ve filed everything into year folders, then each folder has a separate folder within it for each “event” throughout that year.

I then push a year at a time up to the cloud repository, so that when I’m finished I only need to update the last year, then make a new year folder on the mac and start putting files in that. OK some clever person is going to tell me there is some wonderful software available to do all this but you know what? I actually like being in control of what is happening and what is going were, so like Frank said “I’ll do it my way thank you very much”.

So the interesting thing has been looking at the data that is in each of these folders. 6-8 years ago it was grainy video from dedicated video cameras that we lugged around from BMX event to BMX event. Those days are gone. With the price reduction of quality Digital SLR cameras I know find three of them lying around the house (none of which are mind and who knows how they work out whose is whose), but these babies are the generators of storage requirements big time for me.

With the speed of the cameras, the size of the memory cards and the resolution of the photos – it’s a perfect storm of data being dumped into the mac. Yes it is supposedly possible to delete unwanted copies of horrible photos that will never be printed, but that never seems to happy in my house. So I have to be organised, manage the proliferation of data happening on the machine in the other corner of my office and have a regularly checked system to keep track of and copy of, these photos. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be the one in trouble if something does and something is lost (I am, after all, the “computer person” in the house).

All this is great business for computer companies. The average business is starting to put it’s compute power in the cloud, store it’s data in the cloud etc, but I believe the real driver of cloud data is not business, but social media and personal data. At Adaptec we are just going along for the ride – happy to sell product to whichever cloud vendor (often called datacenter) needs more storage so no complaints from a corporate perspective, but … and here’s what I want to know …

What is your “Big Data”? … and how are you making sure it’s safe.