Final note to all - I achieved a resolution, of sorts. I was told that Seagate was involved and I was given the option to attempt firmware upgrades on our current drives. Instead, my boss negotiated replacement of all desktops to similar models with non SED/AF drives.
I won't be posting here further, as my role in this is finished. Good luck to all those that are in the same boat, hopefully Seagate's FW update will work.