Controlled Explosion: Big Data and The Cloud

Controlled Explosion: Big Data and The Cloud

You can’t stop the massive growth in data, but you can do a better job of managing it

IT departments are beginning to shift their focus from adding more storage to improving the efficiency of the storage systems already in place. Today, the name of the game is improving productivity and efficiency.

Storing and managing a large – and ever-increasing – amount of data presents a formidable business challenge. “Data volume is growing faster than IT budgets and faster than technology is evolving to solve the problem,” says Sanjeet Singh, a product marketing manager at Dell. Midsized companies are particularly challenged, because they typically lack the resources (both money and manpower) to handle the deluge.

Three Pillars of Data Management Efficiency

With infrastructure budgets under constant pressure, IT departments are beginning to shift their focus from adding more storage to improving the efficiency of the storage systems already in place. Today, the name of the game is improving productivity and efficiency while eliminating waste.

Indeed, many analysts predict strong growth for technologies that help midsized companies increase efficiency and get greater business value from their data storage investments. Some technology providers have zeroed in on three pillars of efficiency that bring almost immediate relief from the cost, complexity and administration of data management:

1. Consolidation

Server-attached storage has limited space for disk drives, which means when IT departments need more storage, they’re forced to purchase another server. This yields isolated storage “islands” that are difficult and costly to manage because  the systems must be updated and maintained individually. “Companies throw servers into their environment not because they need more horsepower but because they need more storage,” says Steve Arrington, product marketing strategist at Dell. “Then they have to hire more people to manage all this stuff.”

Consolidating resources in a virtualized storage area network, or SAN, allows companies to break free from the constraints of server-attached storage. It separates data management from servers, which allows IT to speed up operations like backup, retrieval and archiving because the tasks don’t compete for system resources. A SAN can be used to mirror information at remote locations, ensuring quick recovery in the event of an outage. And the prices of SAN-based technologies such as iSCSI have dropped, making them more viable options for financially constrained midsized companies.

Storage resources can also be consolidated in a network-attached storage (NAS) environment. IT departments should consider cost, distance between offices, and number of users when choosing between a SAN or NAS.

When storage resources are consolidated into a single pool, IT managers can store more data on fewer drives, which use less power and require less physical space.

The benefits over direct-attached storage are clear:

  • lower cost per megabyte of stored data
  • no single point of failure
  • centralized data means less administration
  • greater disk utilization
  • network-wide storage management
  • scalability; can add capacity without taking system offline
  • supports many operating systems

2 . Deduplication

Data duplication (unnecessarily storing multiple copies of the same data) is a big drain on storage resources. It wastes capacity, creates longer backup windows, slows down retrieval and generates more management overhead. According to one data management consultant, duplication rates of up to 30 percent are not uncommon among companies with no formal master data management plan. (And what midsized company has one of those?)…

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