Changing Technologies, Bigger Challenges

DQI Bureau
New Update

Since 1996, according to Gartner estimates, most enterprises have been adding

storage capacity at more than 30% per year. More important than the capacity

increase, is the multitude of mission-critical information, even for

applications like e-mail that were previously not considered mission-critical.

The slowdown has not eliminated the need for more capacity. Instead, the growth

in storage capacity and the importance of data have resulted in IS departments

coming under intense pressure to maintain storage performance and availability

and to better manage investments in storage capacity.


But there are several issues involved. CIOs are faced with the challenge of

storing legal document in a scenario where technology options are rapidly

changing. Account books have to be preserved for at least eight years. Six years

ago, storage was mainly restricted to cartridges, magnetic tapes, and floppy

disks. Storage technology options have undergone massive changes since then,

with concepts of network storage such as SAN and NAS fast gaining acceptance.

Till some years back, only a small portion of data was in electronic format, but

with increasing criticality of IT in business, almost all information is now in

electronic format. S K Agrawal, VP —software development, Chambal Fertilizers

mentions the compatibility issue of previous storage solutions with current

media available. Without such compatible solutions being offered, backup could

be obsolete. Many organizations are thus resorting to multiple backups.

"Data has to be readable when you need it most,’’ Agrawal says adding

that many a times backup tapes are simply not readable thus causing great


There is hence a need to check the quality of backup on a periodic basis to

ensure reliability and availability of data. These issues necessitate the need

for an effective storage management solution.

The new approach


Without an effective storage management system in place the organization’s

storage costs and failure rates are bound to increase and the flexibility or the

agility created by networked storage will be minimized. Gartner suggests four

factors that an IS manager needs to keep in mind to address the growing problems

of managing storage–organizational issues, process and procedure development,

costing and chargeback options and storage management technology alternatives.

Effective management of any infrastructure component or application requires

a strong staff. Therefore, the first step to better storage management begins

with addressing organizational issues. To be effective, the storage management

team must integrate with other areas within IS organizations, such as

applications development, database administration, systems administration and

systems management.

India: What’s in store?


Most vendors in the country offer various storage technologies and solutions.

This broadly falls into three types of data storage technologies–direct access

storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS), and storage area network (SAN).

The traditionally used server-attached storage model does not suffice for the

increasing business needs any longer. The model, which uses servers, each with

its own directly attached storage device, creates islands of information.

Whenever more capacity is required, administrators add additional disk space to

existing servers, or added new servers. Backup is on a local tape drive or a

shared drive over a network. "The traditional storage solutions do not

fully deliver on the demands of the Internet age. They are simply not designed

to handle the unexpected spikes in demand for data-driven services, to

accommodate the 24 x 7 availability requirements of today’s end users, or to

be managed across globally distributed networks," says KP Unnikrishnan,

country head—marketing, Sun Microsystems.

As more and more companies are realizing the need to protect data and enhance

storage capacity, the movement towards network storage is fast catching on.

"Till about two years ago, no one was talking about network storage and the

market was almost negligible. But things have changed dramatically over the last

few months. Every large enterprise that wants to get into high level of

computing is now interested in network storage," says Anupam Nagar, country

sales manager—storage, HP. SAN and NAS are two different approaches to network

storage solutions. Both SAN and NAS facilitate the sharing of a pool of storage

devices, use network technologies instead of direct attachments, and have the

goal of simplified management of storage. There are, however, fundamental

differences between the two technologies.

SAN solves the LAN-to-storage bottleneck by using fiber channel (FC) or

Ethernet technologies to take storage off the server entirely. Storage is

centralized, so individual servers can access tape and hard disk drives as

needed. That translates into more efficient use of storage space and a much

higher level of scalability. In comparison, a NAS is basically a stripped-down

server that is specifically designed for file services, such as sending,

receiving and storing data files. It has limitations, as it doesn’t usually

provide effective backup. However, it offers significant cost saving, which is a

big advantage over SAN.