4 trends that shape how agencies handle storage
Top storage trends help managers meet their storage goals
Five years ago, storage was fairly straightforward. A data center had spinning disks and tapes, and although data growth was exploding, the infrastructure itself was fairly manageable. Today, however, organizations are adopting new storage technologies and managing multiple tiers of storage – rotating media, SSD, DRAM memory, tape, for instance – while at the same time being challenged to reduce the overall footprint of the data center. Complexity, say experts, has increased exponentially. IT managers, looking to reduce complexity, cost, and carbon footprint are looking to several trends to help them do just that. Here are the top four trends for 2011 that are helping IT managers meet their storage goals and provide excellent end-user experience, too.
Storage optimization becomes a must. IT is using fewer-but-faster storage devices, so making sure that everything that they are using is optimized for both space and performance is a must, says Greg Schulz, a senior advisory consultant at the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT infrastructure technology advisors and consultancy. “For capacity, they are archiving, de-duping, and thin provisioning. They’re optimizing for performance, too,” he says. “They are striving to do more with less.” For example, IT has started creating and enforcing archive policies for the business instead of the other way around. “Users used to be far less willing to let data be archived, but now IT is telling the business, within reason, ‘This is what’s going to occur,’” says Schulz.
Solid-state disk (SSD) flash drive technology makes its way into the data center. A few years ago, storage professionals would have laughed at the thought of putting an SSD drive into the data center. Yes, they are very fast and have low latency, but they also have an inherent problem: They have a more limited life expectancy as compared with rotating media. “You can only read and write so many times before you get a failure, so it takes some intelligence to use flash intelligently,” explains Dan Kusnetzky, a distinguished analyst and founder of the Kusnetzky Group LLC. Still, when used correctly – for applications that are I/O-heavy -- they can boost overall performance.
More data moves into the cloud. IT professionals are turning to the cloud for applications and infrastructure. In the coming months, infrastructure will mean more than processing power, says StorageIO’s Schulz. The reason is twofold: the cloud makes management easier and, according to an Aug. 25, 2011, Forrester Research report, it costs less, too. “Our models reveal a significant cost difference, with the cloud-based model coming in 74% less expensive than I&O running it in-house,” according to the research firm. However, with security and compliance looming large for most government and public institutions, it remains to be seen whether those organizations will see the same cost benefit. Most will require a private cloud implementation, which comes with an added price, says Schulz. “Some people may be able to go the public route, but the majority of [organizations] will need a hybrid or private model,” he says. “It’s going to be up to each IT department to figure out how much it costs to provide storage internally so they can go to the cloud providers with data in hand and be able to talk about service objectives and price shopping.”
Security becomes even more important. Security has always been important, but now, as IT is being charged with securing disparate storage sources that are being accessed from inside and outside of the enterprise, the task becomes even more challenging – and crucial. “Data in the data center is being accessed not just by applications on a server or desktop but increasingly by a constellation of devices like tablets and smart phones,” explains Kusnetzky. “This creates more opportunity that malicious use will arise, and makes it more difficult since you’re retrofitting your network and infrastructure to deal with these challenges rather than having the security built into the original design.”