Exponential growth of storage capacity and how to manage it

Today’s information technology and storage managers face new business and application requirements that are complicated by a number of challenges: managing the increasing volume of data, providing continuous access to information, adopting an evolving set of storage technologies, and meeting the escalating

requirements to better utilize resources.

Several technology adoption waves have introduced computing to the world of business. Each wave has created an increasing demand for storage capacity and bandwidth. Starting with batch processing as far back as the 1960s, through the introduction of the client/server model and the evolution of network technology, the need for storage capacity and bandwidth has grown. Bandwidth enables transactions, which generate revenue, while capacity is a by-product that involves cost. This reality is creating new challenges for those managing expanding storage resources.

Managing Increasing Demands for Data

With the rapid adoption of electronically integrated business processes of today that link the enterprise to both customers and business partners, the demand for storage is rising at an unprecedented rate. Even more amazing is the increasing growth rate of transactions. In many network-oriented businesses, the growth rate of transactions is increasing faster than the growth rate of capacity. Business requirements include the widespread deployment of data-intensive applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), multi-media applications, digital imaging, and video on demand.

Data and information are no longer received just as flat files or text-based email attachments. Increasingly, the nature of the stored data objects is changing into semi-structured and unstructured formats, such as bill images, graphics, and video clips. New industry regulations, such as T+1 in financial services (addressing reconcilement of stock trades within one day of execution) and HIPAA in the medical industry (maintaining long-term electronic records of patient information) and PIPEDA in Canada, will prove to be huge drivers of storage capacity and performance. As such changes occur, storage solutions will need to archive and maintain the integrity of these new types of data, such as medical Xrays, video clips attached to emails, and video on demand.

Demanding Information Access Around the Clock

For many companies, information generation, collection, transfer, and analysis are an ongoing, 24/7/365 process. Companies need access to this information continuously to drive their daily business operations, create and maintain strong customer relationships, maximize the value of their business relationships, develop competitive market advantages, and create new business opportunities. Data is seen as a shared corporate asset–utilized by multiple internal applications, shared by business partners, and accessed by an increasingly mobile and global workforce. This combination of nonstop global business operations and expanding information usage is forcing many companies to provide “”anytime, anywhere”” information access.

The Shift Toward Network-based Storage Solutions

Corporate storage architectures that are historically based on direct attached storage (DAS) and the SCSI technologies, often create distributed storage silos. According to IDC, DAS currently represents approximately 85 per cent of the installed base of storage in the open systems environment. The physical configuration and management requirements of DAS are expensive and can limit business flexibility for many enterprises. This is most often due to corporate infrastructures that manage storage resources across multiple data centers in which these DAS silos are configured and managed separately. Myriad interfaces and proprietary frameworks have created storage management islands, leaving IT administrators with a complicated collection of tools to manage their decentralized, heterogeneous storage topologies. Many IT organizations have no way to get an overall view into their entire storage resource pool to understand enterprise-wide capacity, performance, or service levels. In addition, the dedicated usage required for this server-based storage allocation model creates islands of applications and information not shareable across the enterprise. In a rapidly changing business environment, DAS solutions are inefficient and costly.

Hu Yoshida is with Hitachi Data Systems. Carlos Soares of Hitachi Data Systems and Theo Forbath of NerveWire, Inc. also contributed to this white paper.

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