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In the final part of our series on the rise of global storage networking, we examine the role of global storage networks in service-oriented environments.
As global storage users continue to be faced with ever-growing data volumes and security risks, storage technologies that offer the best investment opportunities are becoming critical business components.
And as storage networking becomes integrated into enterprise service portfolios, effective and efficient storage technology and services become increasingly important.
The result is a need for storage networks that not only must reliably span the globe, but also provide vital services to users.
Experts say there can be a tremendous return on investment when companies centralize their server and storage architecture and environment, but careful planning and design are required to maximize cost and minimize risk.
According to IDC, the success of global storage networking is dependent on storage companies expanding their professional services coverage, investing in support automation tools, and placing certain functions offshore. IDC also says that storage customers are continuing to look for outside help in consolidating their storage operations, improving their backup and recovery processes, and developing strategies for regulatory compliance issues that affect storage.
With all those considerations in mind, it can be difficult for global storage users to know which storage technologies offer the best investment opportunity.
Storage Technologies to Consider
According to John Lallier, vice president of technology at FalconStor, technologies that are designed from the ground up for heterogeneous environments and based on open standards are most promising for global storage networks.
"Technologies that knit together the separate components into a cohesive unit will continue to offer customers the highest return on their investment today and in the future," he says.
Others, including Eran Farajun, executive vice president at Asigra, say that the best investment opportunity for global storage clients is adding a disk-to-disk remote backup and restore strategy to enterprise data center backup to fully protect all business information in case of a site disaster, tape mismanagement, or other data loss.
"The financial investment and IT resources required are minimal, but the remote offsite backup could save the business and eliminate downtime that impacts customer confidence and revenue," Farajun says.
According to John Joseph, vice president of marketing at EqualLogic, the best investment opportunity for global storage clients is IP storage networks built on the iSCSI standard, which he says meet a clear need for an alternative to Fibre Channel SANs for efficient interconnectivity of all storage resources throughout the enterprise.
"Businesses of all sizes, government agencies, colleges and universities, hospitals and healthcare benefits providers are building enterprise-wide SANs using a new generation of iSCSI-based storage solutions that can be entrusted with business-critical application data," says Joseph. "These customers were looking for no-single-point-of-failure design, 'five nines availability (99.999% uptime), modular scalability, and enterprise storage management and protection features — and they are finding them in iSCSI systems designed for this purpose."
However, says Joseph, iSCSI connectivity alone is not the whole answer. "Global storage requires an intelligently designed system using industry-standard components packaged into a redundant, highly reliable and intelligently managed system, and iSCSI happens to be a good connectivity choice for such a system," says Joseph.
Services Models Require Uptime, Redundancy
For enterprises looking to integrate storage networking into their service portfolios, storage solutions that eliminate downtime by enabling redundant storage network infrastructures with geographically dispersed data centers are of critical importance.
These include solutions that cost-effectively extend advanced business continuity applications, and solutions for replicating data and the applications necessary to process that data in real time at remote locations are other needs.
Lallier says that technologies critical to the success of global storage networking are storage services that protect data (active-active failover, replication, mirroring, snapshots), allow the consolidation of application servers and multiple physical disk resources across cabinets and various protocols (Fibre Channel, SCSI, iSCSI), and enable any existing storage system to be combined with new storage to create a high-performance storage network offering both block-level (SAN) access for high-performance storage as well as NAS resources for file-sharing purposes.
Farajun says that his customers frequently ask him about the Service-Oriented Architecture aspects of his company's products. He says his customers want to know how his products can help them implement them as a utility service across their global enterprise.
Farajun says features such as billing systems for internal charge-back, centralized management, mass deployment, APIs to tie into existing systems, SLA monitoring and management are among the features his customers are interested in.
"Licensing models to reflect utility service provisioning are another interest our customers have," he says. "Our customers understand that legacy licensing models are prohibitive to them if they see the IT department as an internal service provider."
Data center and storage technologies for enterprises competing globally continue to be of vital importance for both storage vendors and their clients. As this market continues to evolve, it is likely that the most successful storage vendors will be those that can efficiently and effectively address the major issues facing global storage networking clients, including addressing the costs and complexities of managing ever-growing data volumes and maintaining business continuity by eliminating downtime, while providing services that enterprises increasingly demand.
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