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Dropping disk prices make storage system builders sloppy

Because Windows shops can buy storage capacity for so little money these days, people tend to forget what it really costs to build a robust high-performance storage system, says Jacob Farmer, chief technology office for Cambridge Computer Services, Inc.

The continually dropping price of disk storage has been a continuing source of happiness for many storage managers and network administrators. But the continuing price drop may be messing a lot of things up.

That's the view of Jacob Farmer, chief technology officer for Cambridge Computer Services, Inc., a national integrator and VAR specializing in data protection and storage management solutions. The firm is based in Waltham, Mass.

Farmer says that as disk drives get bigger and prices get cheaper, some people out there are tending to get sloppy.

"The good news," says Farmer, "is that with inexpensive disk, first of all, you don't have to worry about managing it nearly as much, and secondly, it means you're redundant – you have more copies of your data every which way from Sunday."

The downside to the dropping cost of storage is a certain form of prodigality. "I've seen people putting in centralized storage systems that are really ill-conceived," Farmer said.

He went on to say, "The bigger the hard disk, the worse it performs." He points to a storage manager who gets excited he "can buy a 750-gig hard drive for a few hundred dollars, and can build a RAID array with that and get a couple of terabytes, divide that up and share that up among all his servers."

Sure, said Farmer, that manager is handling all his capacity needs. "But from a performance and reliability standpoint, he's running on much less robust gear than when he had direct-attached storage. And he has far fewer disk spindles."

In short, Farmer said, he sees people being a little sloppy, because they can buy capacity for so little money they forget what it really costs to build a robust high-performance storage system.

About the author: Peter Bochner is site editor of

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