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Issue of December 2004 
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Storage Management & Virtualization

Everything virtual about it

Harish Krishnamurthy

Ever-rising amounts of data have resulted in CIOs grappling with issues related to storage management. In 2000, the University of California conducted a survey, which indicated that by 2003, 85 percent of information would be stored magnetically. The actual number in 2003 was 95 percent.

With data growing exponentially, the economics of storage management has gained top priority in organizations. Avers Phil Sargent, Research Director, Gartner Asia-Pacific, "Every day more storage is being deployed in SAN and NAS. As storage software mechanisms mature, the importance of utilization will come to the fore."

No SAN should be an island

Until recently, nearly all SANs in the enterprise had to be built using the storage platform supplied by a single vendor. Explains Harish Krishnamurthy, Director Marketing, Asia Pacific, pSeries, IBM, "In large organizations this has resulted in many different SAN islands being created, with each department using its own set of tools, often by its own support team.

When you look at this trend, storage management is likely to be very much in demand as organizations seek to employ tiered storage systems and information or data lifecycle management (ILM/DLM) techniques to run applications and host data on systems that match the business value of those systems."

Virtualization today

Where does storage virtualisation stand as of now? Opines Sargent, "Storage virtualisation is at the peak of the hype cycle, but one needs to realise that it is a valuable technique. For storage virtualisation to be effective, it has to be implemented at multiple levels."

Companies are trying to develop management software that can tap into any kind of hardware from any vendor and customise itself. This generally entails creating software that divides servers and storage systems into fine partitions, and then layering management software on top of these boxes.

Managing costs

Phil Sargent

The costs associated with storage have to be managed. Says Sargent, "If a CIO is quizzed on the amount of storage that is actually used, he will be dumbfounded to know that a huge amount of storage goes waste due to faulty storage management."

A suggestion to overcome this problem is to follow a tiered storage model. Says Krishnamurthy of IBM, "Another way is to look at the convergence of storage servers, wherein two storage systems within a single array are used, thereby reducing the price per megabyte."

What aspects should a CIO look at in the future to leverage existing storage infrastructure? Advises Sargent, "Companies should look at creating an extensible storage network topology, and also look at adopting an ILM strategy to suit their needs. Security aspects need to be minutely looked into in today's storage environment. The myth that storage is associated with backup is a misnomer."

 
     
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