Enterprises can now rely on arrays of SATA hard drives in place of Fibre Channel-only configurations, 3Par has claimed.

The storage vendor formerly promoted a tiered approach, with Fibre Channel disks as the best option for on-line data, SATA disks for near-line archiving, and so on. However, marketing VP Craig Nunes said that 3PAR is now thoroughly confident that SATA is up to both tasks - he called it "Near-line for on-line."

So is this Bye-Bye to all those pesky disk tiers, where either storage admins or automated management software must allocate application data to an appropriate class of disk storage?

Yes, claimed Nunes. Tiering might still be best for some applications, he said, but for many others, then as long as the storage subsystem has enough IO capacity in total to handle all the applications connected to it, it's one-size-fits-all.

He added: "You end up with a single storage tier for all applications. You could vary the RAID levels within that, but we would probably keep it simple. We're saying that we've got the experience, and the testing is in place now to say this is OK."

SATA drives are considerably cheaper so this could save companies a fair bit of money. Nunes said it is down to the use of technologies such as massive striping, where data is striped across all the drives in an array.

Massive striping enables 3PAR's arrays to overcome the drawbacks which SATA would otherwise present, he argued. In particular, that's performance (SATA drives aren't the fastest) and recovery, where rebuilding a RAID would otherwise take a lot longer with 750GB drives than with 146GB drives.

Recovery speed is also aided by intelligent RAID technology which only rebuilds the used "chunklets" on a drive, Nunes said.