A Port Fixation

April 27, 2015

Author: Neil Cameron

Many of the customers I talk to have a fixation on port numbers. I find it a bit unusual because we tend not to have the same sort of fixation on anything else we doethernet cable in life. The benefits of more ports seem obvious—my fellow blogger Dave Berry writes about how performance and capacity help data centers do more with less—but when it comes to RAID controllers or HBAs, we definitely have a fixation.

For example: I have 2 x SSD – hmm, you don’t have a 2-port controller so I’ll look at 4-port instead. I’m not interested in looking at 16-port controllers because I’m fixated on the number of drives I currently have. That’s a shame because in fact it’s the 16-port controller that you need, whether you currently realize it or not.

I’ll come back to that but let’s look at the rest of our life compared to RAID controllers. The speed limit in my country (on the open motorway) is 110km/h. So therefore why do I need a motorbike that does more than 110km/h? Why on earth would I own a Ducati Monster that’s capable of around 265km/h?

Another example is a recent upgrade I did on the suspension of my 4WD. I could have standard height, 30mm lift or 60mm lift. Hmmm, I mostly drive on the road so I could stick with the standard height, but guess what? I went with 60mm.

Point being I have no fixation on the limits imposed by the law, or the limits imposed by common sense when it comes to my vehicles; I buy what I want. I certainly have a fixation, as do many customers, when it comes to choosing RAID cards and HBAs.

You guessed it – I’m banging on about the 71605E again – a 16-port “entry” card that is absolutely perfect for RAID 10 on SSD (or HDD for that matter) – fast, capable and affordable. But customers tend to overlook it because it has 16 ports and they are fixated on 4- and 8-port controllers.

So here’s my tip, which is mostly aimed at SSD users who have already decided to use a faster device but haven’t changed their mindset about which controller to use:  Stop thinking about the number of drives you have, and start thinking about what controller has the processing performance to handle your needs.

We should look at controllers in the same way as I make choices to buy vehicles. Don’t let arbitrary limits or whether someone needs a ladder to get into your 4WD dictate; buy what suits your performance needs not just what satisfies your “numbers” requirements.

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