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Issue of June 2003 
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Event: Business Continuity
‘Interoperability is a must for Storage’

It's imperative that all aspects of storage management are dealt with when considering a storage management solution. Steve Coad, General Manager, South Asia, EMC updates us on storage trends and how organizations choose storage solutions. by Anil Patrick R

What are the latest trends driving networked storage?
We see three major trends in the networked storage world. The first is a move towards storage consolidation and networked storage.

The second trend is an increasing demand for tools to manage the growth of information, and the rising complexity of IT. Organizations would like to manage multi-vendor storage infrastructures from a simple, central point of control.

Meeting service levels and ensuring business continuity is the third trend. As more and more applications are brought online, more employees at every business expect and require continuous access to information. That in turn lowers the tolerance level for service disruptions of any kind.

What should buyers look for when choosing a storage solution?
First in line comes the storage capacity management of the server. Then come issues like backup and retrieval problems; application unavailability for scheduled and unscheduled downtimes; servers, operating systems and storage consolidation issues.

When it comes to features, the things to look out for are the following. Heterogeneous server and operating systems connectivity is a must. Next comes management of unpredictable and continuously expanding storage allocation demands. In addition to this are features like data availability and integrity; consolidation and movement of data without downtime; online backup from storage—server and network-less backup; Enterprise-wide business continuity and disaster recovery by enterprise storage; and information sharing between different servers and operating systems.

NAS and SAN support should be present in the same storage for flexibility of future technology. The solution should also have common management for storage infrastructure.

How does one derive optimal value from his/her storage solution?
From an information infrastructure perspective, organizations should identify a storage solution based on how it can boost productivity and growth without discarding previous investments; lower TCO, improve utilization, elevate service levels, and report back to business quickly—to ensure the best return on investment.

Modularity should be present to allow data-in-place upgrades without disruption/investment protection. Automated and open storage management software that works across multi-vendor environments to consolidate storage and servers, should be selected.

Interoperability is a must. The information infrastructure impacts every part of the IT environment from applications and servers to databases. You should ensure that every device works well with the others.

Next on the agenda comes choice. You need to see if the vendor offers you the most comprehensive solution set possible from SAN, NAS, DAS, multi-path serving to block storage over IP. Often, one size does not fit all.

Ensure that your vendor has a good support center and a track record for customer service. Ask yourself questions like do they have a 24x7 support center? Do they have specialized storage professionals that you can speak with and rely on? The value of customer service cannot be over-stated. It's a must-have.

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