mainly by explosive data growth, enterprises have wisened
up and moved to network-centric storage models to keep
its data safe. But the real task is to manage the storage
in spite of its challenges. by Soutiman Das Gupta
study conducted by a research firm says that in the
next three years, the world will generate 57 TB of data.
Incredibly, this is more than all data generated on
earth over the last 40,000 years. It seems we're not
looking at a data 'flood' herewe're looking at
a data 'explosion.'
The reasons for this data explosion are many: the growth
of the Internet, workplace automation, use of enterprise
applications, and the need to archive historical data.
In many enterprises IT spend on storage almost matches
that of servers. Gartner predicts that by 2003, IT spend
on storage will be three times the server spend, and
will constitute 17 percent of the IT budget. Currently,
storage makes up 4 percent of the IT budget.
Storage needs to be managed
Enterprises can claim that it has adequate server space
to keep its valuable data neatly tucked away. But does
that really mean much? How will an enterprise optimally
harness the data to make sure it's available all the
time, and get maximum benefit out of it?
It's absolutely essential to follow appropriate storage
management practices in order to tame the growing bulk
of enterprise data. After all, intelligent data is what
your organization thrives on. Over the last few years
storage management has evolved from a server-centric
model to a network-centric model. And this shift has
naturally given rise to new difficulties, concepts,
Storage management challenges
These are some of the challenges faced by enterprises
who want to handle its storage resources
The biggest challenge is to manage the explosion of
data growth. An enterprise needs to not only have
adequate hardware, but a correct management strategy
to handle volumes.
Storage interoperability issues keep cropping up because
not all vendors' products interoperate even though
they claim to do so. The products are sometimes proprietary
in nature. Enterprises may have legacy systems and
multiple OSs which are difficult to integrate. And
new storage standards like iSCSI, Infiniband, and
Bluefin are already in various stages of maturity
even though earlier standards like Fiber Channel have
not been adopted very widely.
Managing a distributed architecture is difficult but
vital since the same information needs to be accessed
by different users who run different applications.
Managing storage remotely and with the least amount
of human intervention.
Most enterprises have restricted IT budgets which
naturally impacts storage hardware and software procurement
decisions. IT heads are doubly cautious about spending
Qualified technical personnel for storage systems
are not easy to come by. This adds a cash component
to the overheads.
There may be unpredictable demands due to events like
unpredictable growth, holiday rush, and catastrophic
costs three to five times the amount per GB
to manage storage than to purchase storage
Manpower requirement for storage management:
Distributed storage: 300 GB/Manager
Central but unconsolidated: 400 GB/Manager to
Multiplatform and consolidated: 1500 GB/Manager
to 2000 GB/Manager
Creating and deploying a well-structured storage management
infrastructure is the best way to overcome the challenges.
The storage software management modules should be able
to capture information efficiently and allow monitoring
of best practices and usage patterns. It should be able
to load balance, simplify administration, automate the
entire storage architecture, and ensure consistency.
Agendra Kumar, Country Manager, Veritas says, "A
storage management solution is not just a tactical tool
but a strategic component for any IT environment."
Arun Rao, National Manager, Storage Business, Computer
Associates (CA) says, "Storage management tools
comprise hardware and software components and utilities
which when put together make up the total storage architecture.
It can perform backup and recovery, aggregate diverse
data, and provide database support. And they should
ideally be interoperable across all platforms, applications,
databases, and hardware topologies.
A true managed storage environment is possible with
a mix of hardware and software wired in the correct
topology using an appropriate protocol.
Storage hardware is available from a number of vendors
like Network Appliance, HP, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems,
EMC, Adaptec, and StorageTek. Most vendors offer robust
hardware configurations and scalability options that
may suit your enterprise.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network
(SAN) are the most popular topologies of network storage.
And protocols like IP, Fiber Channel are the most popular
storage interface standards.
The intelligence of any system, as we all are aware,
is in the software. All hardware vendors provide their
own management software which has a console-based management
module. And vendors like CA, Veritas, IBM, and HP offer
enterprise-wide storage management software.
Most storage management software can be broadly categorized
into two categories. The first category of software
deals with data protection, and takes care of backup
and restore, and media management.
The second category deals with storage resource management.
It looks at storage performance optimization, allocation
of assignments, control measures, capacity analysis,
and storage service level metering and charge back.
Bithin Talukdar, Market Development & Alliances,
Software Global Business Unit, HP, mentions the following
key attributes of ideal storage management software:
Enables mobility, allowing easy migration of data,
by demand or policy, between logical and physical
Allows transparent expansion.
elastically, allowing expansion and contraction without
persistently, and is always-on and always-available
until it is removed from management control.
securely, where data is protected from unauthorized
economical. The total cost of management decreases
as storage size increases.
responsive so that performance service level parameters
instant visibility so that authorized users have access
to data, regardless of the infrastructure, which may
be Direct Attached Storage (DAS), NAS, and SAN.
automation, thus reducing the chances of failure due
to workmanship or other administrative issues typical
of managing large amounts of data.
The goal and the key
Analysts at Meta Group say that enterprise storage management
is likely to surface as the most significant contributor
to an IT Organization's (ITO's) operational savings.
The goal of storage management is to streamline and
automate as many daily tasks that consume staff resources
as possible. And the key is to examine how and which
operational tasks can be automated and leveraged across
server operating systems and multi-vendor storage hardware.
This will help to increase storage capacity. And will
either keep the number of storage infrastructure and
storage operations staff constant, or will hopefully
decrease the number of staff over time.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at