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storage boxes / JBODs / enclosures

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -

This page (originally a directory of storage box manufacturers) was popular with readers a long time ago (1990s upto around 2005). And I had forgotten about it. When I rediscovered it my first thought was to simply place a redirect on it as I'm more interested noways in what goes in a semiconductor memory cell - and how to get useful products out of jail fulls of unreliable trapped charges and also nowadays (magnetic / resistive parameters too). But where would I redirect readers to? Home page? Maybe something more relevant. Here goes.
  • rackmount storage boxes - you can get efficiencies at the array level (high population of thousands of memory chips) which are impossible to achieve at the drive level. So the rackmount SSD is the make or break level for enterprise SSD businesses. That's why so many companies (including semiconductor companies) have been entering the rackmount market in recent years.
  • M.2 has become an interesting form factor to watch for SSD integrators - because it provides a pipeline of low cost raw SSDs which can easily be repackaged in arrays for other purposes.
Nibble:- re Storage Boxes - (an earlier introduction to this directory page)

During the 1980's and most of the 1990's you would have been forgiven for thinking that most computer systems looked pretty much the same. A PC from Compaq looked similar to a PC from IBM, and you would have to look really close at most portables to determine the brand. Most office computers and servers were aesthetically challenged. Then Apple, Sony and Sun Microsystems started to design computers to look pretty, and storage boxes followed suit.

But meanwhile another revolution was brewing...

For decades, industrial users, the military, and telcos had realised that the cost of housing and looking after large numbers of computers was significant. If you're managing hundreds, or even thousands of systems, then using standard rackmount modules is the only way to minimise floor space, speed repair and replacement, and manage thermal and safety issues. As millions of companies became wired to the internet during the 1990's they ran into the same problems encountered by earlier generations of IT managers who had bought mainframes during the 1960's and 70's...

...Servers take up a lot of space.

The difference was that unlike the computer rooms built as temples to IBM in earlier generations, the modern economic paradigm was less tolerant of wasted floor space. So rackmount became the "in thing" and is now the fastest growing segment in the server market.

Today the range of storage enclosures available to the computer buyer starts from portable gadgets which you can take to the beach, and scales upto fault tolerant systems where the disk drives and power supplies can be replaced while everything is powered up and online. In the home, the storage box for the digital entertainment center, will soon become as ubiquitous as hi-fi's and VCR's were in the 90's. Brushed aluminium, matt black, bright colors, or woodgrain finish will become more important product parameters to consumer RAID buyers than storage capacity and network speed.

They'll all hold 200 movies, and 500 record albums, connect to your TV, camera, and be backward compatible with your old DVD's, CD's etc... so who cares about what's inside?

Style, ergonomics and engineering excellence also have their part to play as corporate storage systems become physically bigger and more expensive than the computers which they connect to, the choice of enclosure and the options inherent in that choice will become even more significant than before.

PS - for pretty looking storage boxes see:- Storage News in Pictures (2005 to 2010)

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