Storage front-and-center in 2007

Storage front-and-center in 2007

Farewell the storage problems of 2006 and bring on the new year

ILM helps organizations lower their effective hardware costs as well as the total cost of ownership of storage. "ILM is being implemented fairly well in Hong Kong," said Li, "However, many of the existing practices are applying ILM at the application level and not at the information level. Symantec affords organizations the ability to manage information from the time it's created, until it is archived to tape for long term storage and eventually retired."

One emerging trend is increased use of multimedia, where industries involved in video and digital entertainment media are seeing exponential growth of storage demand. "Some businesses operate almost 24 hours and it is difficult to find time for backup," said Lo, "More important is an emerging need for continuous data protection. As a result, real-time, disk-to-disk synchronized backup is growing globally."

Virtualization and autonomic provisioning

"We are seeing increased adoption of storage virtualization in both mainframe and open systems environments," said Sun's Lin. "This is driven by IT shops which need to manage up to tenfold more data with the same number of staff."

Users are focused on the time-to-market of their own products, so they want IT including storage resources, ready on time when they need them, which means flexible on-demand infrastructure, according to Lo. "They don't want to focus on hardware, but on provisioning for new projects, so that's why virtualization is a hot topic," he said.

Storage virtualization improves utilization enabling administrators to pool all storage into logical groups that can be reallocated quickly or in real-time based on demand," said Ko from HDS.

"Therefore, users' priorities are switching from acquiring additional storage to achieving better utilization of what they have. This is where array-based storage virtualization comes into play," added Ko.

Another strategy that responds to the customer needs for rapid provisioning is Autonomic Provisioning, which enables storage provisioning to be decided as a policy based on business rules. "So, instead of constantly monitoring IT projects and provisioning them individually, a policy relates storage to server activity, projects, operating systems and decisions on storage provisioning, so decisions can be made more or less automatically," said Lo.

A significant proportion of users are switching from outright purchase of storage arrays towards procurement of storage capacity under an on-demand financing scheme, said Gartner analyst Adam Couture. "The number of companies purchasing storage on an on-demand basis has risen dramatically during the past year-it will account for seven percent of storage acquisitions by 2008."

Business continuity and disaster recovery

Small and midsize businesses face challenges in acquiring business continuity and disaster recovery services says Gartner analyst Roberta Witty in a November 2005 report: "SMBs Must Raise Awareness of Importance of Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Plans." Reasons include inadequate resources to provide a 'good enough' job with disaster recovery; failure of SMB management to focus on what they may see as hypothetical disaster scenarios; absence of multiple facilities to use as offsite recovery sites.

SMBs must make management realize that "having a business continuity plan in place will ultimate cost less than not having one," said Witty. One persuasive activity recommended is to perform an informal business impact analysis, risk assessment and tabletop test.

Hong Kong organizations do well against global standards for security and business continuity practices. Offsite data backup can straddle the Hong Kong-mainland border. "Local companies affiliated with Chinese companies across the border make strategic decisions to deploy shared datacenters and telco links," said Lo. "Drawbacks like high running costs, cultural and language obstacles, less stable electricity supplies do not prevent collaboration through strategic corporate networks. Where cross-border networks are less cost-effective than is desired, the usual policy is to prioritize the most critical data operations and storage functions and expand from that base."

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