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.

Everybody wants absolutely everything instantaneously. From staff craving access to files and emails that are years old, to clients hankering after entire transaction histories online, the pressure on storage systems to be ever faster and reliable is growing.

In 2008, the compound annual growth rate in data storage requirements could hit 50 per cent, outstripping the industry’s attempts to increase disk capacity, which is growing at around 30 per cent.

And while not all growth is even – some organisations report up to 200-300 per cent, others register nominal growth at best – you can’t afford not to have a forward-looking storage strategy in place.

“Storage needs are growing,” Gartner managing vice-president and storage specialist, Phillip Sargeant, said. “But storage growth is not necessarily associated with the sheer volume of data being stored by users. A lot of the growth can be attributed to the tendency for disk-based systems being used for backup and replication.

“People want to recover quickly from a failure. They want services restored in 15 minutes, not an hour, not half a day. They have to put in more storage to do that.”

In fact, as more and more organisations look to ease storage pain points, there are ample opportunities around a variety of technologies for the channel to help clients strike a storage strategy.

Formulating a strategy

To realise sales or consulting opportunities in this storage growth trend around disaster recovery (DR) or the latest backup and archiving technologies, resellers must first get customers thinking about classifying their data, Sun Microsystems storage manager, Steve Stavridis, said.

Data needs to be prioritised along the lines of how critical it is to the business, how easily and often it needs to be accessed, and the length of time it needs to be retained for business or compliance purposes.

“If you’ve got data out there that is important but not critical, you need to tier your storage,” Stavridis said. “You need to distinguish between fast, high-performing storage and adequate, high-capacity storage. Both come at a very different price point – the latter costs an arm and a leg.”

The first distinction a customer might make is between structured data (transactional data, such as that held in databases or for online transactions) and unstructured data (data stored on file servers, email and so on).

Transactional data is generally growing at a manageable rate (around 20-30 per cent per year), but needs to be protected with expensive equipment to meet stringent service levels. Unstructured data, meanwhile, is less vital, but harder to manage in growth terms.

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