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The differences between the two implementations are reflective of each vendor's product philosophies. Atrato makes 2.5-inch SATA drives enterprise-capable with their ORT, end-to-end error correction and detection, autonomic self-healing, high densities per enclosure, and with clever vibration and cooling methods. They improve performance by combining 160 drives for up to 80 TB in a 3U enclosure that provides up to 12,500 IOPS and 1.5 GBps throughput from a single enclosure.

Xiotech's focus is on providing increased reliability and performance from enterprise Fibre Channel and SAS 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives. The baseline FRU is a sealed DataPac of 10 3.5-inch or 20 2.5-inch Fibre Channel or SAS HDDs for up to 16 TB in 3U. Each ISE has dual removable DataPacs, power supplies with cooling, 96-hour battery backup and active-active RAID controllers. Unlike standard storage subsystems, ISE DataPacs feature innovations such as sophisticated vibration reduction and improved cooling; Xiotech exploits the internal structure of all of the components to fully leverage very advanced drive and system telemetry. DataPac drives feature special firmware that relieves the burden of device compatibility required of all other storage subsystems. The result of the tightly knit control within the DataPac is a highly reliable "super disk" that has demonstrated more than a 100-fold increase in reliability vs. a typical storage system drive bay (based on Xiotech's test of 208 ISEs containing

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5,900 drives for 15 months with no service events).

Does fail-in-place work?

Atrato and Xiotech have proven that fail-in-place definitely works. Their product testing and customer testimonials indicate these technologies can virtually eliminate HDD replacement service calls. That translates to lower costs, less risk of lost data and fewer application disruptions.

Self-healing storage solves tangible operational problems in the data center. It reduces services events, costs, management, data loss risk and application disruptions. And most importantly, it works. Ten years from now, self-healing storage will be considered a minimum requirement just as RAID is today.

BIO: Marc Staimer is president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

This was first published in June 2009

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