Compaq Smart Array 3200 Controller as a SCSI Controller

Chris Zach cz at
Thu Jul 16 10:35:35 CDT 2020

> ATA? That long ago?

Sorry, IDE like. Forgot the terminology. You could put 4 drives on a 
controller, then two controllers per unit (EISA was cool).

> Possible but unusual in a server, I would have thought.
> What OS, just out of interest?

I think it was SCO Unix.

> A single box? Oh dear.

We were so silly back then :-)

> I've had catastrophic hardware failures, but luckily, none that took
> out a RAID controller. I've just heard the horror stories.

I remember pulling it. There was a hole where one of the ASIC chips was. 
Pretty amazing to be honest, but oh well. Compaq took it back to the 
factory for review.

> I finally left the support business in about 2011, but by then, it was
> fairly standard practice to install VMware (the free VMware ESX
> hypervisor if the company didn't have a paid vSphere site licence) on
> all new boxes, then install the OS in that. Even if it was a dedicated
> machine that only ran 1 OS ever. Because that way, if the machine
> died, you could restore the backup onto a new, totally different box,
> so long as it was running ESX, and it would Just Work™ with no driver
> or activation issues -- the virtualised hardware was the same.

VMWare was *great*. I started using it on a small IBM box, then once I 
realized it was like a true mainframe OS we bought a pair of IBM 366's 
and a DS4300 SAN. Then upgraded the CPUs on them (4 CPUs). Then a set of 
DS4700 SANs (redundant arrays of arrays with 2 controllers per array). 
Then got a third so we could always run 2/3 of the cluster as opposed to 
50% (for failover, see SystemPro). Then 3850's and 3950's with QPI 
memory sharing. God that worked, I was able to get 70-80 servers per box 
running away....

Much cheaper to run systems there than in the cloud. But everyone loves 
the cloud, so off we go.



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