We covered Adaptec wishing to sell its systems business recently. Adaptec wants to dispose of its system business in a controlled fashion. It's going to increase its focus on SATA and SAS controllers and RAID.

It's taken a look at the likely future business prospects of a systems business wih a large NAS component and, even though it would have SATA and SAS technology and its RAID capabilities, such that you could have a multi-tiered NAS box with RAID functionality, it's decided that the business returns would not be worth its investment.

It can get a better return for its invested assets from its controller and RAD business.

To my mind it's implied more. You could take such a NAS box and add IP SAN functionality to it - and Adaptec still wouldn't like the business. We are in NAS commodity hell and it looks like IP SANs could be in a similar position, unless they have serious additional functionality.

There is possibly a channel conflict aspect to Adaptec's decision. It is always tricky when a component supplier moves up the stack and build products that its component buyers are also producing. There is a perceived or actual risk of channel conflict.

Russ Johnson, Adaptec's general manager for international sales, emphasises that the systems business is viable and has investment going into it:"We have allocated more engineers to it. We have a strong roadmap with great products in the file and block area coming. It's not a distress sale in any way, shape or form."

"Customer support is provided by Anacomp and it extends for the life of the product. Customers need not be alarmed that support will disappear."

"We're concentrating on (supplying) the industry-standard RAID code. It's used by IBM and other top-brand OEMs." Johnson emphasises that Adaptec's RAID code is complex and hardened, meaning you can rely on it more.

SAS ramping
Adaptec is also energetically developing a family of SATA II and SAS products, with the same RAID technology being used. A pair of SATA products have just been launched in conjunction with Seagate and Maxtor introducing SATA II drives.

There is going to be more.

Johnson said: "We're the first company with a full line of SATA and SAS products. We're working with mainstream disk manufacturers on SAS drives. We're creating what we hope will be the world's largest SAS compatibility lab."

There should be a full family of SAS products coming with multiple port counts.

Russ Johnson thinks SAS will consolidate Fibre Channel and SCSI interfaces, saying: "Fibre Channel is not a really efficient drive interface. SAS adoption will be very rapid and will represent around twenty percent of the enterprise drive market in twelve months."

The prospect is of drive array vendors producing a single array with both SAS and SATA drives in it. The SATA drives will be used for nearline storage of refererence data and disk to disk backup. The SAS drives, with a higher performance, will be used for transaction data.

Expect Maxtor and Seagate and other disk suppliers to bring out SAS interface drives very quickly. Then expect Dot Hill and Xyratex and others to bring out combined SATA/SAS arrays. The majors will move too.