Dot Hill - A Video Look Behind the Engineering Scenes

Storage isn't all about the IOPS and TBs. It has to work, be usable, and indeed get to its place of use along the same roads (with the same potholes and construction) as anything else.

I recently went to Dot Hill to learn about a future product release (more on that at the appropriate time), but also found myself extremely engaged by some of the vital-but-often-overlooked engineering finesse that goes into making an eventual product that is both reliable and usable. For anyone with a hankering to be a mechanical engineer, or if you are simply interested in the very basic but thorough thought that goes into a storage system, then the following video is for you....

Video Transcript

Mark Peters: So I'm here at Dot Hill in lovely Longmont, Colorado, and I actually came for a briefing on products, which you'll hear about in the next month or two. But coming here gave me an opportunity to go to the labs and let's face it. Most of this industry don't concentrate much on actually how the stuff is put together. We talk about the high-level functionality and if you like the cool software features, which are important. But as we get into a more virtualized world and ever-greater capacities, we're going through all these islands of storage to increasingly large and very capable smaller groupings of storage. In other words, the hardware really matters. So since I was here, I thought I'd take the opportunity to learn a bit more about both the Ultra48 product and then get into some of the cool engineering factors that we overlook, but are really important.

Bruce Watkins: Hi, we're here today to talk about the Ultra48, the latest array from Dot Hill, and that is a 2U48 system, which has twice the capacity, twice the performance and only 2U in height. It also has 48 small form factor drives. The product is very robust, in fact, it has active-active controllers, hot-swappable drives and has no single port of failure.

Charlie Morris: Our primary product in the small form factor family is a 2U24. It takes a standard drive. We mitigate EMI on every drive within the sled itself, and we just released and have introduced the high-density of products, which takes 48 small form factor drives. We had to create a new sled that has HDD isolation. The sled was created in conjunction with a partner, 3M, and we isolate against vibration. And because we are side mount, we also always exit to the interior of the form factor of the system. So should there be a wall or a door, we're still able to use our system.

In the large form factor family, we have two products. The first is our low density product. We have what we call gelding, it has eject assist. You'll notice the drive gets pushed out to us, and on this guy, once again, we have our isolation for vibration and we meet the NEBS requirements.

John McCrandall: I'm cost engineer for Dot Hill. I'm in the process of evaluating our Ultra 2U48 product. We're doing a transportation stimulation. The particular arrangement is in the v-axis. It is non-operational test, and with all of our testing at Dot Hill, we typically will go to whatever the max duration is put out there by industry standards.

Charlie Morris: Hercules is a large form factor, 4U56. That also meets the NEBS requirement. It's the same drive sled, it presents the drive to the user, we've put it in and we're there. We were top load, and because we have the eject assist, if the user inadvertently dropped it, we have a spring that catches it, softens the blow. So those are the Dot Hills systems family of products. Also by the way, on this guy, because they can go under earth quake, we had accelerometers on board, which can measure the amount of acceleration that the system sees. Also we have sensors in the very front of the system so we can measure the ambient air conditions, so we're able to warn the user if an air conditioner goes out and they're starting to overheat the system.

Mark Peters: In this industry, we tend to focus on the function a great deal. If you're getting that function, it's only possible because of what's going on underneath, from the engineering perspective. So I hope you enjoyed this look into some of the cool engineering features that help to distinguish an okay storage product from the really good one.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure