Striking a solid storage strategy

Striking a solid storage strategy

With the data flood continuing to rise, organisations must strike a sensible storage management strategy to help them forge ahead.

Backup: Tape vs disk

Another area that has become a key issue amid the data flood is the manageability of backups. Once exclusively the realm of tape drives, backup is slowly but surely encompassing disk as users look for faster, more manageable solutions.

A study by Gartner in April this year found disk would be the primary medium for recovery of critical data by 2010. However, the analyst firm also noted enterprise storage vendors had only made slight progress in terms of winning customers over to the virtues of disk-based backup.

“We still backup to tape every night,” said the CIO of the company behind retail brands Fone Zone and Next Byte, Vita Group, Lex Moses.

“With tapes, it’s a simple cost equation; the cost if justifiable. Disk is getting more reliable, but achieving the granularity [of tape] on disk is incredibly difficult.”

Gartner’s Sargeant contended tape still has its place in the archiving of long-term data that is rarely (if ever) accessed. It is far easier to take physical tapes offsite in disaster recovery terms, whereas disk-to-disk DR requires significant bandwidth, he said.

“Tape still has value,” Sun’s Stavridis said. “Some organisations are storing data for very long periods of time. Is it wise to have that data on disk if it is never accessed? That disk is going to spin continuously and generate heat for hundreds of years. That’s where tape provides economic benefit.”

With the market largely undecided on tape versus disk, the obvious fix is agnostic data management software tools.

“People are increasingly doing their first level of backup to disk, then copying it to tape,” McIsaac said. “One master tool to do backup and recovery to disk or tape is ideal.”

Of the software vendors providing these management tools, Gartner scores CommVault (Simpana) and Symantec (NetBackUp) at the head of the pack in terms of functionality, with EMC (Avamar), IBM (Tivoli), HP (Data Protector) and CA (ArcServe) among those trailing.

While Symantec holds nearly half the market share if you consider both new licences and maintenance revenue, McIsaac claimed CommVault could help customers save money, despite its higher price tag.

“The upfront cost of the CommVault product is less than the yearly maintenance cost of Symantec’s Net BackUp,” he said. “CommVault is a relatively new entrant to the backup and recovery market, but it has done a good job of developing a next generation product and selling it at an aggressive price point.”

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