> [ ... ] Their operational lifetime will be enhanced if we got a
> few spare parts, mainly HDD. Does anyone have any recommended
> suppliers for such parts, particularly "Enterprise"-quality HDD.
Anybody will do for commodities, and there are wide ranges of
different people. Some random notes:
* Usually there are some constraints on "approved" suppliers,
but usually "approved" suppliers are mostly OK.
* Some server people will sell you drives for not much more
than buying them from some online consumer shop like
eBuyer. IIRC Viglen is one of these.
* Dell will do deals on spare parts and upgrades that are
often fairly reasonable, and if you have a service contract
they will keep the box all-Dell, which matters. The Dell
deals are often difficult to find, and for some you need
to sweet-talk your account rep.
* For somewhat odd bits and high end bits there is a specialist
site called SPAN.COM which often has stuff difficult to find
* The more "business" oriented online vendors tend to be
Insight, Misco and Dabs. CBC also seems reasonable. Sometimes
"enthusiast" vendors like SCAN.co.uk, Overclockers.co.uk etc.
are also useful.
> And whilst I'm on the subject, what are people's opinions on
> whether or not the "Enterprise" label on a HDD is worth it?
Well, depends a lot. I often think "yes", especially for the
manufacturers that price "enterprise" SATA not much higher than
"consumer" SATA (for SAS there are almost only "enterprise"
products), and depending on workload (especially seek rate).
In some cases I have used even SAS products (usually the 10k
ones) in SATA enclosures as they are a cut above the SATA ones
and often don't cost that much more.
Different manufacturers used to have somewhat different styles as
to artificial differentiation both features and price (e.g. WD
being more extreme, Samsung and Hitachi more relaxed, Seagate in
between), but some have disappeared.
Most drive manufacturers are as usual messy disorganizations with
several different design labs working on different generations
and lines at different times, and they have different engineering
philsophies, so things change with generations and product
Usually "enterprise" SATA means some of these:
* Settable SCT Error Recovery Control.
* Firmware with different scheduling, for example a bit faster
* Better resitance to vibration, which has become a very big
issue with large poorly designed drive array cages.
* Sometimes slightly better build quality and QA (and *much*
better build quality for SAS 10k and 15k drives).
* Longer warranty *if purchased with a direct warranty*.
As to the warranty issue, it is often entertaining to have both
3y and 5y warranties quoted as that sometimes reveals how
reliable the vendors think they are. Sometimes they get it
grossly wrong either way.
In general the hard drive industry marketing people think in
three different "segments"
#1 Retail: where the drive is packaged by the manufacturer,
either inside a USB /eSATA box, or standalone, but often with
some gimmick like a driver CD. Warranty usually direct from
manufacturer after a few weeks from vendor.
#2 Bulk: unpackaged drives, resold via shops as single
products. Most drive manufacturers are resigned to handle
warranty replacements directly like for retail drives.
#3 Bulk OEM: drives packaged inside OEM products like Dell or HP
or DDN (which often order custom versions to lock in their
customers) or smaller ones like Transtec/Viglen/... and
manufacturers won't touch these, because they are sold to
OEMs without warranty in large cartons.
Overlapping this there is also the situation that individual
consumers get statutory minimum rights that organizations don't
get, but except for case #3 the warranties offered by OEM vendors
to organizations are the same or better than the mimimums.
Buying online there are still cases where one can choose roughly
the same drive with different prices depending on type and
length (1, 3 or 5 years are common options) of warranty (and
increasingly coarse packaging).
In the past clever (mostly online) shops have resold "bulk OEM"
drives to consumers and then tried to shift the warranty
processing to the manufacturer, and this has created confusion,
thus there is now a #2 category.