Data centres filled with weighty metal
products may become a thing of the past if storage networking
specialist McData gets its way.
On a recent trip to Australia, the company's chief executive
John Kelley told ZDNet Australia he had instructed his company's
engineers to think plastic when designing new storage networking switches.
"I came to our engineers and said, 'think about this, the new
Boeing 787 airplane was going to be made out of all polymers," Kelley said in an interview. "My guess was it was pretty expensive, I said, but we gotta explore this, figure it out."
According to the executive, plastic or more technically, polymer-based chassis, offered a
number of advantages over metal counterparts. "There's a safety scenario, there's a
weight scenario, and then there's an environmental scenario," he
"If you go into a data centre, there's all those machine racks.
The casings are metal, and the devices are metal. So one of these
things happens, you drop a screw, a screwdriver, whatever, it'll
"There are safety issues, because of all the power going in.
But plastic is non-conductive."
Furthermore, he added, it was "literally" possible to lift
some of his company's new chassis hardware with two fingers. "The
weight for these devices was getting very heavy," Kelley said of
metal-based data centre products.
Kelley also claimed polymer-based products were more
environmentally friendly, due to the relative ease with which they
could be recycled.
The executive said his engineering team was tremendously
excited by the possibilities offered by the futuristic
"What happens is, you get the engineers psyched up because
they're doing something unique," he said.
"It would be the first set of green products coming out. We are out on the cutting edge," said Kelley, adding he hadn't heard of other vendors plotting similar moves.
"If you talk to the engineers, it will allow us to do some
interesting things with air flow and cooling," Kelley continued,
noting maintaining overworked devices at safe operating temperatures was a constant problem in data centre environments.
Kelly said McData's incoming group of Director-class storage networking systems
would feature the new plastic chassis, but some of the other
products would take another generation to make the