companies putting a squeeze on IT budgets, there's lot
of pressure on IT managers to control storage infrastructure
costs. It's the IT manager's responsibility to get more
mileage for every buck spent on the storage infrastructure.
And it's the smarter IT manager who manages to do it
at the end of the day. by Soutiman Das Gupta
companies are squeezing IT budgets yet forcing IT managers
to look for more GBs. Companies can claim that they
have not spared any expense to set up storage infrastructure,
but may suddenly find themselves with a reasonably large
storage setup and relatively less benefits. What would
you do if you face a similar situation in your organization?
To get maximum benefit from your storage setup, you
must take a good look at the current storage management
practices in your organization.
Anal Jain, MD, India and SAARC, Network Appliance, says
that an ideal storage management solution should allow:
Simple and fast backup and recovery
High-availability and uptime
Interoperability across applications, servers, and
Scalability to expand without rendering the existing
storage setup obsolete
Simple management and should not require retraining
as storage needs grow
Most Indian companies are very careful about the way
they manage storage. And storage service provider companies
have lots to say about the way Indian companies manage
their storage infrastructures and the challenges faced
by them. Most storage solution providers agree that
IT heads of Indian companies are very serious about
their storage infrastructure and understand well that
the storage and security of data is of high importance.
Nikhil Madan, Country Manager, Legato Systems, India,
says, "Currently, Indian organizations are on the
learning curve. Everyday more and more organizations
realize the importance of having storage software solutions
for their networks."
P.P. Subramanian, Country Manager-India, Hitachi Data
Systems, says, "It's important that enterprises
evaluate the various solution provider offerings and
superimpose the findings over the requirement."
Anil Valluri, Director, Systems Engineering, Sun Microsystems
adds, "Indian enterprises should ask the vendors
for standards-based management software. And they should
discourage proprietary software."
T. Srinivasan, Country Manager, EMC says, "Most
Indian enterprises are still not in the realm of having
storage as a separate line item in their IT budget,
because it gets clubbed under servers. This mindset
will only change if users begin to understand the benefits
of storage consolidation and how storage is at the core
of the entire IT enterprise."
Analysts at Meta Group say, to successfully control
storage cost, Information Technology Organiza-tions
must undertake a dual strategy of restraining the businesses
storage appetite by making it accountable for what it
consumes, and driving down the unit cost of managed
storage. As the storage budget becomes increasingly
dominated by the management cost, ITOs must focus on
reducing this component rather than just relying on
the annual 35 to 40 percent price/performance improvement
of the hardware.
Failure to analyze the policies and procedures that
drive storage costs can result in a large expenditure
in software to automate a task that has little impact
on the management cost. This results in an overall increase
in storage management costs. Storage administrators
who don't adequately benchmark storage costs and do
not understand their cost drivers will fail to control
The bottom line is that careful selection of storage
management tools will dramatically increase storage
administrator efficiency and contain storage growth
costs. However, IT organizations must focus on policies
and procedures and use them to drive tool selection,
instead of vice versa.
A Manager's perspective
V.K. Ramani, President, IT, UTI Bank talks about the
importance of a data policy and capacity planning. "An
important aspect of a storage strategy is the data policy.
Not all issues that have an impact on an organization's
data strategy can be solved with technology alone. Individuals
must follow sound practices with institutional dates.
The users should place their data within supported data
structures. Users who store data in local drives should
not be encouraged if the policy dictates storage in
network servers. Users are unlikely to perform frequent
backups of their data or follow other procedures that
ensure that institutional data are secure. The users
must be trained to trust the network storage facilities."
Ramani says capacity planning of storage systems needs
to take into account a few general guidelines.
"One should measure the amount and significance
of current data, look at the business plans of the organization
and try to estimate the growth in data with a few reasonable
assumptions, and forecast the longevity of the systems.
A three years life span is reasonable," says Ramani.
Rolta India Limited has a mix of distributed and centralized
storage, which it has consolidated in its data center.
It uses CA's ARCserve, for policy-based backup and recovery.
Subrata Mullick, Senior VP, Security and Enterprise
Management Services, Rolta India Limited, says, "Storing
important company data safely is of utmost importance.
And to perform this task efficiently we perform risk
analysis and assessment of the data. The entire process
of risk assessment involves quantitative and qualitative
analysis like annual loss expectancy, business impact
analysis, and cost of recovery strategy. Our data storage
strategy provides optimum use of resources and best
return on investment."
Mullick says Rolta has implemented a storage policy
across the organization. Consolidation of data takes
place in the divisional level in line with a disaster
Through 2006, storage management
automation and process immaturity will limit net
annual enterprise storage capacity growth to 55
to 65 percent (67 to 84 percent gross procurement).
Price/capacity will improve by 35 percent every
To effectively leverage and manage enterprise
media assets, users will require a data/media
center of excellence. Through 2004/05, software
value-added functions, manageability, integration,
and interoperability will be the primary enterprise
The National Stock Exchange uses the following
hardware and software building blocks for its
enterprise storage infrastructure.
Stratus fault-tolerant servers with redundant
internal storage for its daily trading function.
Digital Alpha Servers for back office, data
warehousing, and other operations in conjunction
with Compaq ESA 10000 and Digital SW500 storage
The Storage infrastructure design was prepared
in 1994 when the exchange was commissioned. "At
that time the concept of a SAN did not exist and
all our data was stored in DAS. We later adapted
to the changes in technology and moved certain
critical applications to external SCSI-based storage
with added redundant features. The exchange is
now evaluating the process of consolidating existing
servers and storage to achieve the benefits of
a SAN," said G.M. Shenoy, VP, NSE-IT.
The company considered the following factors important
for setting up its storage infrastructure:
High availability with no single point of failure
High bandwidth and greater performance
Maximum hardware utilization
Ease of integration into existing infrastructure
Better access to information by sharing data
across the enterprise
Freedom from vendor dependence through the use
of heterogeneous hardware and software
Security in storage management
Shenoy says NSE has dedicated teams of administrators
and hardware engineers who look after the operational
aspects of management. "In order to curtail
the connectivity to various servers and storage
we have implemented user authentication for each
machine. Apart from this, access is blocked to
the external world and users within internal segments
are tightly coupled to various machines by using
techniques like hard coding of IP address, access
authentication list, and access filters for the
respective machines. Logical grouping of this
type eliminates threat to the data."
Shenoy says NSE used a single OEM for the storage
subsystem and therefore did not encounter any
interoperability issues. The company's Oracle
archive logs are transferred online to a disaster
recovery site and the servers at this site keep
the database in synchrony.
NSE faced a number of challenges in order to perform
efficient storage management. They are as follows:
Speeding up data access and accelerating backup
Optimizing/consolidating data currently in the
Reducing network congestion due to backup
Scalability issues with the DAS setup
Monitoring, controlling, and diagnosing data
centrally and remotely
Das Gupta can be reached at email@example.com