There is more than one way to skin a cat. Several hard drive vendors have created transitional products to simplify the transition from 3.5" disks to more compact 2.5" devices in SMB-class servers. We cover three different options you can use.
Whether it’s reviews of the latest 2.5” enterprise hard drives, a comparison of different capacity points within the same hard drive family or a shootout between 2.5” and 3.5” drives, we've already spent quite some time analyzing the move from 3.5" to 2.5" business-class storage. The most profound piece was probably the article Changing of the Guard: 2.5” Hard Drives in the Enterprise. But what is the best way for small and medium businesses to make the switch?
Swapping out functional drives for new disks doesn't happen very often, but there are a few situations in which it does make sense to transition over from 3.5” to 2.5” storage. Let’s keep in mind that all of this applies to traditional servers with specific storage requirements that revolve around I/O performance. Pure storage servers for nearline and offline storage, such as backup and archiving, will continue employing 3.5” in years to come, as the hard drive makers have been offering excellent high-capacity solutions for these application types.
One obvious setting in which you can easily migrate to 2.5” is the purchase of new servers or the complete replacement of older machines. New rackmount solutions based on 2.5” drives require a bit less power at comparable specs and allow for higher I/O density per rack space unit.
But what about individual hardware replacements? Individual component replacements usually make sense if there are increased capacities, better performance, or improved performance with newer products. In the server space, however, it is usually not easily possible to replace components because of validation issues. Many of the latest products haven't yet been tested and released for productive utilization in business environments.
A few hybrid products may help to bridge the transition period, because one fact is for sure: 2.5” will be the dominant form factor for mainstream servers and performance storage servers.