Feature

Green shops take MAID for a spin-down

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"It's strictly for power savings," says Chris Brown, VP of IT at Glenwood Springs, CO-based Alpine Bank, of his MAID implementation. "The slower you turn the drive, the less power you use."

Alpine Bank installed a Nexsan Assureon system with AutoMAID in mid-2007. Brown says he takes advantage of the different levels of AutoMAID. Level 1 retracts the hard drive read/write heads and responds to a request from data in less than a second. Level 2 slows the drive from 7,200 rpm to 4,000 rpm and spins back to full speed in less than 15 seconds at the first data request. Level 3 puts the drive in light sleep without turning it off, and can take 30 seconds to respond to a request. Nexsan claims power savings range from up to 20% for Level 1 to 60% for Level 3.

Alpine Bank uses Level 1 MAID for data that hasn't been accessed for five minutes and Level 2 for data that hasn't been accessed for 60 minutes. It doesn't use Level 3, says Brown, because "we're a 24 by 7 shop, so it probably wouldn't do much good. They'd be starting and stopping all the time."

Narayan Venkat, ONStor's VP of marketing, predicts the green craze will prompt all storage vendors to employ some type of MAID within a few years. "You have massive amounts of unstructured data on storage systems infrequently accessed," he says. "Why let it run overnight when nobody's accessing it?"

Of course, spinning down disks isn't

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the only way to save power in the data center. In June, Dot Hill Systems began shipping its 5730 FC system with a DC power option that lets companies save money by using DC power rather than the typical AC power.

ESG's Peters suggests a more low-tech way to decrease power usage by reducing the information stored on external disk. "Everybody gets excited about dedupe, but there's a thing called delete," he said. "More people should do more of that."

--Dave Raffo

This was first published in August 2008

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