How to Simplify Enterprise Data Storage Challenges

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The rapid pace of data growth means more storage mechanisms – and invariably, more headaches. From the management of storage sprawl to finding scalable storage solutions, data center administrators have their work cut out for them.

This host of challenges in data storage arises from a single source, which is the exponential growth of digital content, especially in connection to enterprise data storage. This growth in data first raises issues of scalability, which directly affects performance, even for those applications that are not categorized as HPC (high-performance computing). Another issue that many data center administrators must contend with is the high rate of adoption of server virtualization.

The environments of virtual machines are highly dynamic, and the deployment of hundreds or thousands of virtual servers leads to serious strain on the data storage infrastructure, especially in performance, management and capacity. Virtualization has been linked directly to the prevalence of cloud computing. Cloud computing also poses some real issues such as predictable service levels, security and multi-tenancy.

Enterprises now understand the necessity to address disaster recovery, sustainability of consolidation systems, business continuity and availability needs. Nevertheless, they must also put into consideration the ROI, scalability of their solution, TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and support services requirements.

Research performed by Enterprise Strategy Group indicates that there is a 40 percent annual growth in primary storage, but the overall annual growth in IT and storage-specific spending does not even come close. IT professionals and data center administrators are now being pressured to find more effective ways of enterprise data storage, while simultaneously increasing the capabilities for recovery and security.

With the mass adoption of virtualization, the conventional methods used for backup of server data have either been supplemented or forced to evolve. Though in previous instances every production server had its agent, the typical scenario for environments currently is the utilization of virtualization host-centric data protection mechanisms, which offers hypervisor-specific APIs that enable backups of the virtual machine while still delivering the ability of granular restore. The following are some of the current trends in the technology of protection and recovery of enterprise data storage.

  1. It is performed between the primary application engine and other partner application engines. It offers an instantaneously usable instance of the data since the entire stack (OS, storage and platform) is all on each application engine.
  2. It often has the least impact on the application/server because the storage array which performs the work is usually an external appliance which has other innovative capabilities apart from replication. Though storage-based replication has an identical "data survivability" objective with other replication tiers, the replicated instance of the data is not essentially for physically separate scenarios. Some environments may replicate the secondary copy of the data within the original or to a nearby site, for the higher stack (OS, application, VM) to have twin copies of the data to access with synchronous capabilities.
  3. The key idea here is that cloud-based infrastructure and virtualization can facilitate the achievement of a rudimentary form of disaster recovery for enterprises of various sizes. This is particularly true in the case of mid-size companies that do not have a secondary method for backup/data recovery. The method of replication, as well as the kind of cloud repository, will affect the instantaneous usability of the data being backed up.

Due to the features of the modern backup software, which also takes into account cloud support, snapshot management, VM protection and DR elements, backups are now capable of more functions than the simple restoration of data when there is a server or storage failure. Due to the relative complexity of today's solutions for enterprise data storage, enterprise customers should continue to seek external assistance to plan, build, manage and support their data storage infrastructures.

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