we have these mini-SAS PCIe SATA III controllers. Mini-SAS enclosures seem to run about $500, but I can use a $10 mini-SAS-to-SATA adapter cable so then all I need is an external enclosure that provides SATA power and has a way to run the cables into the drives. Should work? Any suggestions?
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Google tells me that they exist and can be purchased. Look for "SAS enclosure" and select something with the right connector - SFF-8470 (InfiniBand) is quite common but SFF-8086/7/8 (various mini-SAS) can be found too.
More cheaply, an "external disk array" (disk bays with power/SATA connectors) also exist.
Everything else will depend on your setup - ideally, get something rackmounted, running off your UPS, with a very neat cable connecting to your sever and hopefully it won't be accidentally pulled or lose power.