Business Storage: A Look At The 3.5" To 2.5" Transition

How To Make The Step Into 2.5” Business Storage

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.

  • dEAne
    Thanks a lot. I will stay with HDD then.
  • frankvdr
    Another option would be to use a 5.25" to 4 * 2.5" SAS/SATA backplane like the CRS-S1040-SAS. I use one with a raid 0 made of 4 SSD's and one with a raid 5 of 4 WD VelociRaptor 600 GB drives attached to a raid card.
    - VelociRaports are less expensive than SAS or SCSI drives and just as fast.
    - 4 drives in the space for 1 5.25" drive
    - accessible without opening the case
    - one 4-pin power plug for 4 drives
    - 2 fans in the backplane to cool the drives
  • On the last page, under "Capacity Segment". You said "Three gigabyte capacity per drive was reached". I think that you meant to say "three terabytes".
  • Didn't Western Digital made available SAS version of VelociRaptor whit dual port connectors for SAS enterprise segment.