Managing Storage Growth Tops User Challenges


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Enterprise storage users face challenges that go beyond simply looking for the lowest-cost tactical hardware procurement. One of the biggest challenges they face is to reduce their storage total cost of ownership (TCO) and manage storage growth more efficiently.

Storage area networks and information lifecycle management top the list of vendor recommendations for managing storage more efficiently.

Zophar Sante, vice president of market development for SANRAD, a San Francisco-based company specializing in IP storage networks, says one of his top recommendations for improving TCO and managing storage more efficiently is networking storage into a SAN to provide for storage resource sharing.

Networked Storage The Way To Go

One of the advantages of a SAN, says Sante, is that information lifecycle management (ILM) becomes an option. ILM is a great way to lower costs by moving infrequently used files off frequently used storage to a subsystem. "The data is still online, but the storage costs could be decreased from one-quarter to one-half the costs of the primary storage being used for frequently accessed files," he says.

Scott McLeod, director of professional services at MaXXan, a San Jose, Calif.-based technology company offering storage solutions with scalable networks and integrated applications, agrees that ILM is an effective way to lower costs by moving infrequently used files off frequently used storage. McLeod also suggests designing and deploying IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) compliant management processes (capacity management, change management, and configuration management).

Other industry experts suggest using SANs to centralize storage management. Evaluate what is being stored and don't assume every data item requires the same level of storage services, they say.

"Look at 'just-in-time' provisioning to address storage use in smaller time intervals, rather than rely on multi-year predictions," says John Lallier, vice president of technology at FalconStor, a Melville, N.Y.-based company developing network storage infrastructure software solutions. Lallier also suggests employing and implementing virtualization and storage services, such as migration and snapshots, on a set of disk vendor-neutral appliances to avoid hardware vendor lock-in.

“...the majority of storage is directly attached to servers, which is expensive, difficult to grow, and limited in management capabilities...”

— Peter Hunter, EqualLogic

"Managing storage and reducing administration costs are at the center of an increasingly complex IT problem that challenges both small and large organizations," says Peter Hunter, product marketing manager at EqualLogic, a Nashua, N.H.-based company that offers iSCSI-based SAN solutions.

"Today, the majority of storage is directly attached to servers, which is expensive, difficult to grow, and limited in management capabilities, especially as servers proliferate," he says. Hunter believes that the migration of data to SANs is the cornerstone of all storage best practices. He says that storage consolidation provides the infrastructure for enterprise features and allows organizations to centralize storage management.

Experts agree that storage needs to be "pooled" so it can be allocated at will. "Volume virtualization, or logical partitioning, provides granular storage allocation, allowing storage administrators to allocate and resize capacity for a specific server and application," says Sante. He adds that storage should scale independent of the network, hosts, and control layer so that the pool of available capacity can increase for the lowest possible cost (drive and enclosure only) without having to invest more in control software, network equipment or host agents.

Page 2: Classifying Data, SLAs Show Promise

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