One reason I decided to work with the folks at DCIG to collect data for their Small Business Storage Array Buyers’ Guide was to learn more about the various products in the space. One difference I noted in these small arrays, which usually hold 4 to 8 drives, is their use of hard disk drive carriers or sleds. There are pros and cons to both approaches, but I was pleased to see that all arrays so far include everything needed to install a drive.
Learn more about the Small Business Storage Array Buyer’s Guide in my previous piece
Although I have seen many storage systems that use carriers and some that don’t, I was not sure how common they were. It turns out they’re common but not ubiquitous. Out of 63 arrays examined so far, 46 use drive carriers and 17 do not. Interestingly, no drive requires these carriers to be purchased separately – they come fully populated with “sleds” whether the drive bays are full or not.
I was also curious as to whether there would be a correlation between drive carriers and “bring-your-own-drive” (BYOD) support. I assumed that BYOD arrays like the Drobo, Synology, and QNAP would be carrier-less since they encourage end-users to install drives themselves. Indeed, ioSafe is the only carrier-less array maker that does not allow BYOD!
But this is not to say that BYOD arrays and carriers go hand-in-hand. Indeed, StoneFly, iStoragePro, D-Link, Promise, Maxtronic, and Other World Computing all allow BYOD and include the drive carriers required to make that happen.
Large Array = Carriers?
Another question in my mind when putting together the survey was if there was a correlation between drive carriers and larger arrays. I assumed that the vibration and rack-mountability of larger arrays would dictate the use of hard drive carriers for reliability reasons.
Indeed, the D-Link DSN-3200 is the only carrier-less array model with over 10 hard disk drive slots. And most of the carrier-less designs were desktop or tower form factor designs as well. Only D-Link, Synology, Data Robotics, and Aberdeen sell carrier-less rackmount arrays.
Although by no means exhaustive, I believe this survey of smaller storage arrays demonstrates that drive carriers are considered necessary by most manufacturers of data center equipment. I am glad that all required hardware is shipped with these units, and look forward to examining them more closely in the future.
Although data analysis is now under way for this Buyers’ Guide, it is not too late to be included. If you are a manufacturer of SMB-focused storage systems and have not filled out our survey, please email me and I will send you the link!