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Storage Scenario in India

There are many factors driving the growth of storage. The key ones include e-business and large enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM, HR, for instance. Generally, a brick and mortar company today doubles in storage needs every 12 months. However, once they embark on e-business, they will double their storage every 90 days, on an average.

"Information is critical to businesses, and as such, information storage needs to be treated with the utmost importance. Storage can no longer be peripheral if companies are serious about competing in the new economy. Storage is infrastructure," explains T. Srinivasan, country manager, EMC Computer Systems NV, Bangalore.

Information demands will skyrocket as bandwidth increases, and the effect of this is already being seen in India.

EMC estimates that the information storage market will be US $ 100 billion business by 2005.

In India, most vendors are offering various kinds of storage technologies and solutions to their customers. This broadly falls into three types of data storage technologies. They are Direct Access Storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN).

"World over, storage investment by customers is likely to exceed the investment in servers in two years time. In India, corporates need to be educated on the need to have mission critical information online, 24x7, and the role that intelligent storage infrastructure plays in making that happen. A few of the large corporations have started to do this here, and I believe that over the next few months a number of corporations will, follow suit quickly," points out T. Srinivasan of EMC.

Most users in the country today are using the storage capacity provided by the DAS systems. But as the network data rates are slowly exceeding the speeds and storage capacity being offered by DAS systems, SAN and NAS systems are definitely going to be the future for storage architecture. In fact both Dataquest and IDC have projected explosive growth for both SAN and NAS products. IDC has projected that NAS products will grow fivefold to approx. $7billion by the end of 2003. In fact, lots of vendors like EMC even see SAN and NAS to coexist within a corporate storage infrastructure.

Let us look at some corporate examples. At Credit Rating Information Services of India Ltd. (CRISIL), Sudesh Puthran, head, technology solutions, (CRISIL) after conducting a complete study of the storage solutions available implemented high DLT drives in the data center. "Today we get a storage capacity and speed of up to 1.5 Mbps. As our storage needs are increasing, we are looking at implementing a NAS storage system. It would be specifically to store our data for CRISIL.Com, where it will be hosted in an Internet data center in India," points out Puthran.

Alstom Power India Ltd., headquartered in New Delhi, specializes in turnkey engineering projects for the power industry. Its activities include designing and installing power plants, transmission and distribution systems etc., and this generates huge amount data in the form of engineering drawings and procurement and production data.

Explains C R Narayanan, company IT manager, Alstom Power India Ltd., New Delhi, "We set about creating a separate storage infrastructure about three years back. At that time not many technologies were available. So we decided to deploy tape storage system. For all centralized activities we are using Magstar from IBM while for decentralized, it is DLT. The engineers generally store the various versions of one drawing in the DLTs and are sent over the 'As Built" drawing via the WAN to be stored in the Magstar system. We are also running a drawing management system over this network, and that helps the engineers reduce revision and rework time."

This kind of network has been built to handle the heavy load of data that flows through it. Narayanan and his team have designed a two-tier storage infrastructure to ensure a systematic data storage.

At the headquarters the IT team has put in IBM's Magstar tape solution including Magstar tape subsystem and Magstar Data server. At the site office and branch office levels, the team has put in DLT tapes from HP for storing the data. They are also using DATs from HP to store less mission critical data both at the headquarters and location offices.

Narayanan decided on Magstar tape solution as he felt that it provided the best combination of data rate and access time among all the midrange and network tape storage solutions that he had seen.

"The combination of fast load and fast access can extend the use of tape drive to near on-line applications. This function definitely extended the use of Magstar tape solution beyond the regular save/restore operations. Most storage devices work on a sequential basis but in Magstar maximum data read/write integrity is accomplished with third generation magneto-resistive heads and servo mechanisms for precision tracking, thus reducing the time taken to store and access data," he adds. For storage management he used Tivoli SM solution as again that provided him a reliable combination.

For all the decentralized storage requirements, Narayanan used DLTs as they provided a back up of as much as 80 GB of server disk space in less than four hours. He feels that HP DLT integrates well with Alstom's centralized storage system and provides excellent performance, reliability and compatibility while being easy to connect, with advanced management and data integrity features.

Says, Avijit Basu, business manager, Information Storage Group, HP India, New Delhi, "Today most Indian enterprises are using tapes for their storage requirement. In fact our DLT Tape solutions have seen a good growth in the market. Companies like Alstom with heavy data can definitely fulfill their storage requirement with our high end DLT Tapes."

"SAN is OS independent and as it can work parallel to the existing network, the LAN or WAN becomes more fast and provides more bandwidth for larger applications," he adds.

As organizations such as Alstom Power, already with a strong storage strategy, realize the importance of storage, there will be more and more high-end technologies such as SAN and NAS gaining ground in the country thus leading to more storage innovations.

The recently founded Cyquator Technologies Ltd. has set up Internet Data Centers (IDCs) across the country to offer services to those companies desiring to establish their presence on the web.

Among the various services it offers, is storage and back up facilities of unlimited critical data for small-to-medium-sized workgroups in a shared environment and web-hosting services. "Data storage is our business and hence we planned for storage infrastructure at the initial stages and incorporated it into the IDC design itself," points out a Cyquator official.

At Cyquator, the debate was primarily between choosing NAS or SAN. Since NAS and SAN are two different technologies and deployed for different application, Cyquator finally choose to begin with deploying NAS products.
Cyquator offers these services via the NetApp F760 box from Network Appliances. Besides, the VERITAS Net Back up solution along with the P1000 series based DLT tape library from ATL has been deployed for backup. "Whether you have a small number of users or an enterprise of thousands, the storage system scales from 50GB to multiple terabytes to cater to your growing capacity requirements. Thus we have achieved virtually unlimited data storage capacity," points out Jitendra Israni, CTO, Cyquator Technologies Ltd.

Data storage explosion is just beginning to happen at Cyquator. "In a couple of years we will invest in Storage Area Networks (SAN), in addition to expanding our Network Attached Storage (NAS) infrastructure," contends Israni.

To begin with, Indian corporates need to understand that the lifeline of the company lies in the storage infrastructure and that it is a technology, which has to be considered separately, away from servers and networks. Thus far, all the Indian corporates were procuring storage along with the servers, with no attention to the fact that server-based storage is a waste of server resources. Intelligent storage is imperative when information needs are critical. The ability of storage to handle tasks such as backup, recovery and disaster recovery is fundamental. If these tasks are using server I/O, then they become a drag on the performance of the whole system.

"Therefore, the first step for Indian corporates is to procure storage infrastructure, which has been proven in heterogeneous, multi-server environments. Storage infrastructure is a specialized area that requires a lot of investments in the R&D, which will determine the way this area emerges over the next few years," explains Srinivasan of EMC.

An alliance between ATL, Network Appliance, Legato, VERITAS and Vixel has created the first and only DLT tape Storage Area Network (SAN) backup solution that removes the inconvenience of LAN-based backup and reduces the deployment costs when compared to direct SCSI-attached solutions. This NetAPP-Certified alliance of products ensures the easy and cost effectively backup of a growing number of NetAPP filers with no impact on LAN or application performance.

Apara's Solutions
Another storage focused company with expertise in end-to-end storage management solutions is Bangalore-based Apara Design Automation (P) Ltd.

Apara has partnered with companies such as Network Appliance Vixel, Alteon, VERITAS, Quantum/ALT and so on to offer end-to-end storage solutions. Apara's customers in India include Yahoo, Satyam, Airtel, Ericsson, Motorola, Baan, Pentamedia, Asian Paints, Caltiger, Bplnet and many more.

Network Appliance Portfolio
Network Appliance a leader in data management, has installed thousands of enterprise data management and web-caching solutions worldwide. Netapp filers from Network Appliance consolidates Unix, Windows and web data across global locations, thus reducing data and storage management complexity. (NetAPP) filers provide flexible and highly available Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions that have been widely adopted in heterogeneous Windows NT/2000 and Unix enterprise environments. The massive growth of data stored in NetAPP filers has lead to serious backup complications including insufficient backup windows and obtrusive LAN traffic during backups
The NetCache appliance from Network Appliance is a high performance caching solution that transparently mirrors content closer to the end user which reduces redundant traffic and eliminates network and server bottlenecks.

NetApp filers handle storage and content management, providing ease of use, scalability while in service, and uptime, all with a tight cap on the total cost of ownership, Net cache appliances handle stream serving problems, providing the same advantage as filers while adding the ability to share streaming bandwidth across major internet streaming protocols.

VERITAS software designs, develops enterprise storage management and high availability software products that mange both on-line and off-line data for business-critical computing systems. The products are designed to improve system performance, availability and manageability while reducing the cost of administration.

The EMC Endeavour
Another player in the storage market is EMC. The hardware range includes EMC's flagship high end Symmetrix, which has a wide range of connectivity options, and can connect to any flavor of mainframe, Unix and NT servers. For mid-range or departmental needs, EMC has the CLARiiON range of information storage products
addressing primarily Unix and NT requirements. These solutions are suitable for SAN environments. In addition, EMC also addresses the NAS requirements of our customers. Products here include the Celerra for high-end requirements and the CLARiiON IP 4700 for mid-range requirements.

These products address different issues and include, TimeFinder, for point in time -copying; SRDF for remote mirroring; InfoMover for sharing across multiple platform, PowerPath for load balancing and EMC Control Centre for a single point of management of a large range of storage infrastructure.

There are similar software products for the CLARiiON range of information storage solutions. These include, SnapView for point in time copy; MirrorView for remote mirroring and Navisphere for storage management.
EMC recently announced the Celerra HighRoad software, which blurs the lines between SAN & NAS. This ensures the best of SAN and NAS are utilized in the
same environment so that the user can access the information faster.

EMC customers include banks, telecom companies, large ISPs, etc. They include Cisco, Oracle, Fedex, Citibank, Amazon, Excite, NTT DoCoMo, UPS, British Telecom, Bombay Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange to name a few.

Quantum - Snap Server
The new Snap Server 4000 is designed to fulfill higher-end network needs to meet the requirements for corporate workgroups in large organizations, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Application Service Providers (ASPs).

The Snap Server is a more cost-effective alternative to a NT server, providing better compatibility, ease of use, reliability, and high performance at a fraction of the cost, says Quantum.

The addition of the fault tolerance provided by RAID 5, the move to a rack mount form factor, and the much larger capacity of 240GB will allow the Snap Server 4100 to easily fit into large corporations and the ISP market Key features of the Snap Server 4000 include:

Ease of Use The Snap Server 4000 installs in less than five minutes which is unprecedented for this class of product. This product also offers remote administration via a web browser that allows the unit to be managed from anywhere in the office or anywhere inthe world. Additional features such as event based e-mail notification of potential problems can also enhance the user experience.

Compatibility The Snap Server 4000 is the only file server in its class to offer mixed-network support. It is pre-configured for simultaneous integration into all major networking environments including: Microsoft, Novell, UNIX / Linux, Apple, and peer-to-peer Windows networks, over TCP/IP, IPX, NetBEUI, and AppleTalk.

Capacity, Performance, and Price The Snap Server 4100 features a Pentium class processor, offers 240GB of storage, and supports up to 150 simultaneous connections.

Security In addition to onboard security, the Snap Server 4100 is the only product in its class that can be integrated within existing Microsoft NT Domain and Novell NetWare Bindery Server security models.

Rack Mount Design The Snap Server 4100 features a 2u high Rack Mount design that easily fits into a standard 19-inch rack.

RAID 5 Similar to the Snap Server 2000, the Snap Server 4100 offers RAID 0 and 1. For the Snap Server 4100, however, is the addition of RAID 5.

The other players in this arena are Compaq, IBM, Seagate, Procom, StorageTek, HP, Deldot and so on.


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