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Getting the Most Out of MAID

Could MAID-based storage systems be the answer to users' power and cooling problems, or is the technology just another management headache for IT?

The idea behind MAID (massive array of idle disks), which is championed by suppliers Copan and Nexsan, is that SATA drives used within the system can be powered up and down to save energy. (See Summer Storage Survival and Will New Head MAID Clean House?.)

MAID systems typically use a small number of spinning disks that serve as a cache for a set of non-spinning, passive disks. (See Copan Pushes Power Savings, Copan Validates MAID, Copan Signs DDS, Copan Gets New MAID, Time Warner Cable Picks Copan, and Nexsan SATABeast Roars .) If a data request is not found in the cache, the appropriate passive disks are powered up.

Though MAID's been around for awhile, it's gaining higher visibility as users face spiraling power costs and space limitations. "One of the most critical advantages of MAID-based systems is that power, space, and cooling consumption is drastically reduced," Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja says. "If you look at some of the Wall Street guys, they are totally maxxed out in terms of space." (See Acid Rain & Colo Crazies and Skype Takes Pro Mobile.)

At this stage, specific figures on the market penetration of MAID remain unavailable, although it appears that it is still early days for the technology, even after a few years on the market. "I think it would be fair to assume that the numbers are in favor of the non-MAID side at the moment," quips Taneja.

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