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Issue of June 2005 

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From stone age to storage

From the neolithic DAS, Indian enterprises have come a long way with over 50 percent using networked storage. Beyond that, many are taking advantage of storage architectures such as CAS. by Soutiman Das Gupta

V A Khargonkar, (Middle) Assistant General Manager, IT, L&T's Heavy Engineering Division, Hazira (Gujarat) with the IT team

V A Khargonkar, Assistant General Manager, IT, L&T’s Heavy Engineering Division (HED) in Hazira (Gujarat) has been a relaxed person for quite a few months now, and is able to devote more time and attention to business processes than before.

Our IP SAN solution has helped us manage our growing storage resources and deliver high data availability

The reason is simple enough. He’s moved out of the ‘stone age’ practice of keeping enterprise data on Direct Attached Storage (DAS) devices, to networked storage—an IP SAN to be precise.

Among the companies running multiple enterprise applications and services such as ERP and business continuity, L&T Hazira is not the only one to realise that managing disparate information islands and platforms would be too complex. The Infrastructure Strategies (IS) 2005 survey reports that more than half the surveyed large enterprises have invested in NAS and SAN.

Network that storage

Executive Summary
Organised storage

Most respondents have invested in organised network storage architectures such as SAN and NAS. Some of these are also moving to more intelligent technologies such as CAS.

Power pill

With the increasing need for companies to manage their ERP systems and DR mechanisms, companies have to resort to SAN, NAS and backup devices.

Among the respondents who have invested in storage infrastructure in the past, a sizeable 38 percent have deployed SAN, while 29 percent have deployed NAS.

See graph: Existing storage infrastructure.

Khargonkar says, “It’s a natural move for organisations whose businesses are growing and need to be managed in a more efficient and organised manner. Our IP SAN solution has helped us manage our growing storage resources and deliver high data availability.”

Telecom is the biggest adopter of SAN (83 percent). For NAS, the services sector is the prime mover with 44 percent.

Driving storage

The need for the better management of ERP (52 percent) and Disaster Recovery (DR) processes (41 percent) deployment are the main drivers when it comes to the adoption of networked storage.

This is explained by the need to smoothen business processes and manage the extensive content and information generated by ERP systems. “Organised information and content will need to be stored, accessed on a regular basis, archived for later use, and available even during a disaster. Here’s where networked storage becomes useful,” explains Khargonkar.

Zoeb Adenwala
Chief IT, Pidilite Industries

Zoeb Adenwala, Chief IT, Pidilite Industries, a manufacturing major, comments, “ERP is business-critical for us and DR is necessary for survival in the near and long run. So it’s important to have a networked storage solution in place, as it provides reliable high performance, and gives us better control over information resources.”

Backing it up

Backup devices are essential to my organisation and they will support our upcoming DR site

Backup devices form a key element of the DR strategy, and 74 percent of respondents have invested in these. The IS surveys of the last three years have shown that backup infrastructure has been top of a CIO’s mind. “We use an automated backup solution, and it is extremely important for our business,” opines Adenwala.

Sunil Rawlani
CIO, HDFC Standard Life

Sunil Rawlani, CIO of HDFC Standard Life has digitised his business workflow, and the organisation uses document management, which means that tons of images are scanned and digitised, and need to be stored and managed. “These applications are like an ERP for us and need to be running 24x7. Backup devices are essential to my organisation and they will support our upcoming DR site,” he says.

80 percent of respondents from oil/power and 85 percent from FMCG/retail have invested in backup devices.

IP storage and CAS

It's important to have a networked storage solution in place, as it provides reliable high performance, and gives us better control over information resources

An interesting finding among all companies that had invested in SAN was that almost an equal number have invested in FC or IP SAN. IP SANs were preferred by 42 percent, while 46 percent picked FC.

IP SANs that use the Internet Protocol instead of the traditional Fibre Channel (FC) protocol offer a cost and management advantage. However, for very high-performance applications, fibre still wins. IP SAN deployments were rare 24 months ago, and have recently become popular. In certain cases, the cost of deploying an IP SAN is less than that of an FC SAN, and CIOs have been quick to recognise that benefit.

7 percent of respondents have decided to give Content Addressable Storage (CAS) a chance. This architecture allows companies to store, index, archive and retrieve information according to the classification of the content. Believes Adenwala, “The use of CAS is a vital step forward for companies who want to simplify their future compliance initiatives.”

Research highlights
  • 80 percent of companies in the telecom sector have invested in SAN. 44 percent of companies in the services sector have invested in NAS.
  • 74 percent of the surveyed companies have invested in backup devices.
  • ERP, DR and information security are the three most important drivers of storage.

5 percent of the surveyed companies plan to invest in CAS solutions this fiscal.

Plans to invest

Indian enterprises plan to continue their investments in storage in the next year. See graph: Planned areas of investment in storage infrastructure. More companies will invest in networked storage, and many more will keep a mix of IP and FC SAN.

25 percent of companies plan to go ahead with both technologies in the next year as opposed to only 12 percent in the installed base.

Companies in the services vertical have the most plans to invest in CAS in the next year. Investments in storage management software will not change much.

NM recommends
  • Move out from DAS to networked storage environments such as SAN and NAS.
  • IP SAN can be used as an economical alternative to FC SAN for many applications.
  • IP SAN can also be considered as a DR option for large enterprises using FC SAN.
  • Enterprises with a lot of fixed content (bills, invoices, medical reports) can use CAS for greater efficiency.

Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at

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