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Going topless is all the rage in storage TCO

How do you cool down dozens of hard drives spinning in a single chassis? Simple…take the top off.

One of the big trends in data center storage is the move to, yes, topless enclosures.  Instead of relying on access to drives from the front of the chassis, systems designers have figured out that top-loading drives not only allows for greater storage density (the amount of capacity per a given amount of physical space), but also for more efficient use of energy, especially cooling the drives.

Quanta QCT is one example of this trend.  They recently announced a new M4600H supporting 60 Hot-Pluggable Drives in Coverless 4U Chassis. The Open Compute Project’s latest storage reference design also boasts a topless design.  It’s not only about cooling and storage density. Serviceability is another main concern for data centers today and into the future.  With hundreds, if not thousands, or tens of thousands of hard drives spinning in a given data center, storing Petabytes or Exabytes of data, data center managers must explore more efficient ways of servicing not only problematic drives, but also system upgrades.

Speed and efficiency is key, and not just in terms of how the drives or the storage systems perform, but also the IT staff supporting the data center infrastructure. Being able to quickly and easily pull drives for replacement and/or retirement, and install new drives in the system allows IT managers to keep the data center running with the least interruption of service.

This is another example of how storage design can impact data center total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO is not simply associated with acquisition cost, or the price one pays for a drive or system.  It comes down to the power the storage consumes, the people to support it, and the time it frees up.  Seagate calls this “the strategic application of storage.” You can read more about it here.

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