NetApp engaged M3 for design and development of the DS4486, a fourth-generation SAS-based disk shelf for their FAS and V-Series Systems aimed at near-archive and backup environments. The principal challenge was to solve a series of complex human factors and usability issues, including chassis and carrier handling, installation, maintenance, and transportation, for a storage shelf that houses up to 48 3.5” hard drives and could weigh as much as 150lbs. M3 gathered and synthesized key user inputs into a comprehensive product interaction work-flow model that begins with delivery and power-up and runs through relocation and decommissioning. M3 used scenario modeling and iterative prototyping to develop a chassis handling / depopulation scheme and an ergonomically designed drive carrier handle. The chassis handles were designed to distribute loads across the palm of the hand to eliminate pressure points while ensuring safe handling and transportation with a unique a pistol grip-like ejector and strategically located instructional graphics. The DS4486 storage system boasts 144TB in a 4U form factor and delivers one of the lowest cost-per-gigabyte solutions for 3.5” tandem drive carriers on the market. In order to deliver this level of storage density in such a small footprint, the physical weight of the system and required installation manpower become critical considerations. M3 met these challenges with chassis handling / population strategy that permits installation to be safely and efficiently undertaken by 2 people without the use of a mechanical lift.
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