The state of MAID in data centers

MAID and spin-down storage systems are playing into green IT and consolidation trends. Regulations mandating more power savings will drive the technology, as will persistent data.

Massive array of idle disks (MAID) technology is often associated with green data centers and commonly offered in storage systems, but analysts say MAID technology remains underutilized five years after it first became available.

Almost every storage vendor offers some form of disk slowdown functionality. But in general, disk spin-down technologies like MAID are getting less attention than say, deduplication, which is all the rage. Some analysts say an increasing focus on energy conservation in data centers should shine more light on MAID, but adoption rates remain relatively flat.

So what should storage managers know about MAID and other spin-down technologies? Read this three-part Special Report to find out.

Table of contents
MAID technology remains underutilized
MAID product roundup
MAID technology podcast with Mark Peters

MAID technology remains underutilized

Disk spin-down became synonymous with MAID, and is frequently mentioned as one of the key green technology options. Other vendors followed with various levels of spin-down over the next few years, including DataDirect Networks Inc., EMC Corp., Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, NEC Corp. and Nexsan Technologies Inc.

MAID became more intelligent, with various levels of power savings added against performance tradeoffs. For example, Nexsan Technologies' AutoMAID feature allows systems to work without spin-down during times of peak workload and to put them in a suspended sleep-standby mode at other times.

But while smaller vendors such as Copan and Nexsan Technologies still market MAID aggressively, it has become just another feature for large vendors such as EMC and Hitachi Data Systems.

"Everybody's added some disk slowdown capability," said Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group. "They don't all drop it down to zero because the restart time is way too long for some applications. But they spin it down to save power where access time is acceptable. It's a balancing act."

→ Editor's Tip: Read this article to learn more about the future of MAID.

MAID product roundup

As data grows while IT budgets shrink in 2009, users are looking for ways to maximize the efficiency of data storage systems. Among the product features available on the market for this is MAID, or massive array of idle disks, as well as drive spin-down.

Senior News Writer Beth Pariseau provides a listing of vendors that offer MAID and drive spin-down.

→ Editor's Tip: Read this article to learn more about MAID products.

MAID technology podcast with Mark Peters

Mark Peters, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group, draws a distinction between MAID, a term first used by Copan Systems Inc., and spin-down. According to Peters, MAID systems restrict the amount of storage capacity that can be active at any one time to approximately 25%. Spin-down systems are more variable in how much capacity is spun down according to data usage.

Find out what Peters has to say about the MAID market and its future.

→ Editor's Tip: Listen to MAID FAQs.

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