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Application-specific storage

Storage to fit the application

With networked storage technologies such as NAS and SAN getting commoditised, the use of application-specific storage can help an organisation get better value from its storage infrastructure. by Soutiman Das Gupta.

Application-specific
storage is meant for enterprises with storage-intensive applications. These
applications typically involve vast amounts of data that need to be indexed, sorted, filtered and retrieved easily

Sharad Sanghi

Managing Director
NetMagic Solutions

NAS and SAN technologies have matured to the extent that networked storage is now a vital part of the information infrastructure.

In the attempt to squeeze more value from their storage infrastructures, CIOs are constantly on the lookout for new concepts or technologies that deliver better performance levels from storage. One such concept is application-specific storage.

WHAT'S THAT

Application-specific storage is the concept of using storage infrastructure that has its components—including data storage and retrieval platforms—tailored towards a specific business application.

DRIVEN BY APPLICATIONS

Before we understand the benefits of this concept, it’s important to recognise that the most important driver of storage requirements are applications.

Applications used in an enterprise drive its storage requirements, and interface with storage at the back end. Application-specific storage solutions enable organisations to bring greater efficiency to their existing storage infrastructure.

“The concept specifically makes sense when the volume of data in an enterprise grows, and the need for data archival and compliance goes up. It will evolve as policy-based application-driven storage for faster information management, irrespective of the technology that has been used in between,” explains P K Gupta, Director, Product Marketing, APJ, EMC Software.

It also makes it easy for the storage infrastructure to comply with any regulatory policies.

Executive Summary
To fit the application
With each department in an enterprise building large data stores, the challenge of sorting, retrieving, and backing up data becomes a complex one. Application-specific storage can help improve performance and make networked storage more manageable.

Power pill
Application-specific storage allows organisations to build the storage infrastructure according to a specific business application or requirement. It simplifies index, sort, and filter functionalities, and also helps in regulatory compliance.

IN PRACTICE

Future buyers of application-specific storage should look for the broadest range of services and create a single repository for all kinds of data. A good infrastructure will have the flexibility to add rules and policies, and offer faster recovery

P K Gupta
Director, Product Marketing
APJ EMC Software

Companies in industry verticals such as healthcare, telecom and insurance will benefit most from the use of application-specific storage.

Different applications have different kinds of storage and retrieval requirements. While organisations strive to move towards standardisation, having a standardised or unified data storage and retrieval platform isn’t always the best answer.

A good example is found in diagnostics, specifically digital medical imaging and radiology. “With radiology and medical imaging taking the digital route, the need for storing patients’ high-resolution medical images, and accessing and retrieving them quickly and easily, dictates the need for application-specific storage and retrieval,” states Sanghi.

Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) is another area where application-specific storage will come into play. Being able to efficiently sort through hundreds of thousands of digitally scanned and archived documents to find the right one isn’t something that can be done easily by one or two people accessing a standard ‘find’ utility and a NAS storage box. It would be nightmarish without having an application-specific storage and retrieval solution in place.

The medical field is evolving, so medical institutions have a need for customised storage solutions. Three factors are generating the need for healthcare-specific storage solutions: the explosion of data, specific patterns of data usage within healthcare, and government regulations.

In the healthcare vertical the data explosion is more complicated. Not only are transactional records such as admissions and billing being computerised, but medical data such as medical charts and laboratory test results are also being digitised.

Deploying application-specific storage

Here are the things a CIO should look for when deploying application-specific storage practices:

  • Determine areas of exposure. Seek legal assistance, outside help, and industry-specific advice.
  • Integrate the plan with Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), if you also plan to implement ILM.
  • Select the best technologies and tools to support the approach.
  • Ask your storage vendors for case studies depicting how they have implemented application-specific storage for organisations in your industry.
  • Make sure your storage solution complies with any applicable rules, regulations, and policies that affect your industry.
  • Make sure the implemented solution is disaster-proof, and can scale to accommodate rising loads.

THE FUTURE

As more industries and workplaces switch to an applications-centric approach, productivity will increase, and along with it the need to create a storage architecture to support growth. This paves the way for newer concepts like application-specific storage since its aim is to increase performance levels of the applications.

soutimand@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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