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Exploring Data Storage Options

Exploring Data Storage Options



Once your business recognizes it has a problem handling the increasing amount of electronic data it needs to store — or that a problem is looming in the not-too-distant future — it’s time to ...

Once your business recognizes it has a problem handling the increasing amount of electronic data it needs to store — or that a problem is looming in the not-too-distant future — it’s time to explore some storage technologies that can help.



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    Exploring Data Storage Options Exploring Data Storage Options Document Transcript

    • Data storage strategies andData Storage Insights insights for growing businesses Exploring Data Storage Options In this issue:Get the Mostfrom StorageInvestmentsWhy a SANMakes SenseWill UnifiedStorage Workfor You? Issue 2, 2011
    • Contents… Data Storage Insights Contributors: Drew Robb and Paul Rubens.2 2 Exploring Data Storage Options for Growing Businesses 3 Get the Most Out of Your Storage Investments3 6 6 Why a Storage Area Network Makes Sense for Your Business 9 Does Unified Storage Make Sense for Your Business?9
    • Data Storage Insights Exploring Data Storage Options for Growing Businesses O nce your business recognizes it has a problem handling the increasing amount of electronic data it needs to store — or that a problem is looming in the not-too-distantfuture — it’s time to explore some storage technologiesthat can help.As you begin to explore your data storage options, you’llnotice that the first commitment you need to make isto avoid haphazardly adding storage resources whenyou need them and commit to a plan. IT administratorsthat were relying on direct attached storage (DAS) andtemporary fixes to keep up with their storage demandscan be overwhelmed by the options for networkedstorage that exist, and it only gets more complicatedwhen you factor in server virtualization, disaster recoveryand many other technologies that businesses are using intoday’s data centers.The key to navigating the potentially confusing web ofstorage technologies is finding the right data storagesolution for your business.As we’ll see in the first article in this issue of Data of a SAN, including high availability, support forStorage Insights, there are numerous disadvantages virtualized environments and simplified backups.to adding storage resources on an ad hoc basis,including management complexity, high costs and Another approach worthy of consideration for somebandwidth issues. Instead, consolidating your storage businesses is unified storage, which puts both file andon a centralized storage resource like a storage block storage on one unified device. Unified storagearea network (SAN) leads to lower costs, simplified systems now include such features as deduplication,management and better backup and archiving of solid state drives (SSDs), storage tiering and the abilitybusiness data. work with large-scale virtualized environments.A SAN can provide an affordable long-term solution for Regardless of the technology you choose to helpyour increasing storage requirements, but it provides your business deal with its data storage problems, it’smuch more than just raw storage capacity. Also in this important that you choose a strategy that can scale asissue we’ll take a more in-depth look at the benefits your business grows. 2 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage Insights Get the Most Out of Your Storage Investments By Paul Rubens M any organizations deal with rising storage requirements by investing in additional storage resources for their servers on an ad- hoc basis as the need arises.While effective in the short term, in the long term thisapproach has a fundamental flaw: it inevitably leads to aneffect known as “storage sprawl,” where data is storedon a large number of servers and storage devices spreadthroughout the organization. Storage sprawl is a problembecause it results in storage resources that are:• Complex to manage• Difficult to backup• Hard to scale• Costly to run• Not suited to providing guaranteed quality of service (QoS) levels for applications• Likely to clog up the local area network (LAN)• Substantially underutilizedIn a word, then, this type of sprawling storage organization. In practical terms this is normally achievedinfrastructure is inefficient; it doesn’t provide maximum using network attached storage (NAS) or a storage areastorage bang for your buck. network (SAN), usually located in your company’s server room or data center.One strategy that’s effective at countering the tendencytoward storage sprawl is storage consolidation. It’s a Benefits of Storage Consolidationstrategy that’s increasingly being adopted by businessesof all sizes, and one that could help your company get Creating a centralized storage resource can bringmuch more out of its storage investments. a number of valuable benefits to your organization, including:What is Storage Consolidation? • Lower administrative costs: As a rule of thumb aStorage consolidation is the strategy of creating a single administrator can manage up to 20 times morecentralized storage resource that is used by many storage capacity in a consolidated environment thandifferent servers and end users throughout your in a DAS environment and use a simple administrative 3 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage Insights interface to manage the entire storage pool centrally. Avoiding the Potential Problems of This higher productivity means businesses need fewer Storage Consolidation administrators to manage a given level of storage capacity, reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) If you consolidate all your storage resources in your of a consolidated storage environment and leaving server room or data center it’s obvious that any storage more of the storage budget available to be spent on problems that occur have the potential to affect all extra storage capacity. the servers that access the storage. To mitigate this problem it’s important to use enterprise-class storage• Higher storage capacity utilization: Investments in systems that use RAID to protect data from individual storage capacity that are never used represent money disk failure and to include redundant components such going down the drain, yet DAS environments typically as power supplies. The ability to replace or upgrade have storage capacity utilization rates of 30 percent components and firmware on the fly, without the need or less. In a consolidated environment storage can for a reboot, is also helpful. It’s important to ensure that be allocated to servers from the centralized pool there are multiple routes between your storage resources as needed, leading to typical utilization rates of 80 and individual servers to provide redundancy in case percent or more. individual physical network cables, switches or host bus adapters fail.• Easier, faster and lower cost backups: Backing up multiple servers usually involves running numerous In the case of storage consolidated onto NAS devices backup agents and moving large amounts of that use the main corporate LAN, it is sensible to ensure data over the LAN or onto backup devices. These that there are no choke points or bottlenecks that may backups can take a considerable amount of time to become a problem when large amounts of stored data complete, slowing network performance to a crawl are moved over the LAN between the NAS devices and and occupying server CPU cycles. By consolidating the servers that use the data. This is not an issue with storage onto a SAN or NAS device you can carry storage consolidated onto a SAN, as by definition a SAN out backups more efficiently, and with a SAN it’s uses its own high-speed storage network. even possible to do a complete backup over the storage area network without any impact on server Archiving Your Data performance or LAN speeds at all. If you consolidate your business’ storage into your data• Higher quality of service (QoS) capabilities: center or server room using a SAN or NAS devices, Storage consolidation leads to high-performance, you may be able to get even more benefits from your highly available storage, thanks to technologies investment by implementing an archiving solution. such as RAID and Fibre Channel or iSCSI. This can Data archiving involves identifying and moving data that help ensure that storage is not the bottleneck that is no longer frequently accessed to lower cost storage, prevents application servers from meeting the freeing up your main storage resources and reducing required QoS levels. the need to purchase additional storage capacity. Most archiving solutions automate the process of identifying• Reduced power and cooling costs: More efficient use data that is ready for archiving, and include compression of storage resources and fewer standalone storage and deduplication capabilities so the archived data can servers mean your organization’s power and cooling be stored very efficiently in a minimum of archive storage costs can be reduced significantly in a consolidated space. Archiving software also carries out comprehensive storage environment. data indexing so that archives can be searched for individual files or keywords very quickly. 4 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage InsightsThis highlights a key difference between a backup and an • Speeding up your backups, as archived data is notarchive: backups are designed so that large amounts of included in your regular backupsdata can be restored quickly, while archives are designed • Providing end users with fast, transparent access tofor the identification and access of individual files. archived files — data should appear to users to be where it was originally storedThere are three types of data that are typically archived. • Providing the option to archive data to unalterableThe first is data that is no longer current and frequently media such as optical disks to comply with someaccessed, but still needs to be kept for possible future regulatory requirementsreference and therefore cannot be deleted. The secondis data that has to be retained for a number of years to • Enabling your company to respond to e-discoverycomply with the requirements of regulations such as requests quickly and at minimum costSarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA, and in some organizationsthis can be a very large volume of data indeed. The final Conclusiontype includes other data such as email that needs tobe archived so that it can be identified and produced Businesses can make the most of their data storagepromptly when required, for example as part of an investments by consolidating with networked storage.e-discovery process. Consolidating storage lowers administrative costs, increases utilization and delivers a higher quality ofAn effective archiving solution can help you get more service.from your storage investments in a number of ways.These include: Storage consolidation also opens the door to better archiving of data, which moves less valuable data to less• Reducing your storage costs by moving infrequently expensive forms of storage. Successfully archiving data accessed data to lower cost archive storage further ensures that businesses are getting the most from their storage investments.• Reducing your overall data storage requirements by taking advantage of compression and data deduplication technologies 5 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage Insights Why a Storage Area Network Makes Sense for Your Business By Paul Rubens I t’s an inescapable fact for most businesses can be allocated to individual servers, which see their that data storage requirements increase allocated space as local disks. The size of these disks can every year. As a short-term solution it may be be increased to provide servers with additional storage possible to add internal disks to servers or space as and when it’s required without the need for ato use direct attached storage (DAS) to add capacity, but server reboot.longer term there are a number of serious problems withthis approach. In the past, SANs based on Fibre Channel technology were hugelyThese include: expensive and were therefore only affordable by very large• Storage becomes increasingly enterprises. But over the last few difficult to manage and years costs have come done very maintain substantially, and using more• Available storage space affordable iSCSI technology is used inefficiently, with SAN solutions such as the Dell utilization rates in servers EqualLogic series can offer the often below 50 percent same benefits at a price that is affordable to small and medium-• Backups are complex and sized businesses as well. time consuming• Applications may run slowly Benefits of a SAN because the local area network (LAN) is clogged A SAN can provide an affordable with data moving to and from long-term solution for your storage devices — especially when backups are being increasing storage requirements, but it provides much carried out more than just raw storage capacity. The benefits that a SAN can offer your company include:Fortunately there is a long-term solution that could makesense for you business: a storage area network (SAN). • Simpler storage administration: Assigning more SAN- based storage space to a server is a task that canStorage Area Networks be carried out in minutes using your SAN’s storage management software. There is no need to installAs you probably know, a SAN, at its most basic level, physical disks in servers or other storage devices, oris made up of one or more storage arrays containing for any cabling or networking reconfiguration.spinning or solid state drives. This storage pool isconnected via storage switches to one or more servers • More efficient use of storage resources: Storageover a dedicated high-speed storage network , separate space can be allocated to (or removed from) servers asfrom the local area network. Storage space on the SAN required — instead of allocating entire disks to servers 6 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage Insights — ensuring that storage resource utilization rates are • Simplified backup: Consolidating all your storage uniformly high. This contrasts favorably with internal resources in a storage array makes it very much easier storage disks or DAS devices that are often significantly and faster to carry out backups. You can also carry out underutilized — sometimes for no other reason than “serverless backups” by copying data across the SAN that the spare disk space has been forgotten. or piping it to a tape storage device for offsite storage without consuming any server CPU resources and• More predictable future storage requirements: Good without any speed impact on the local area network SAN management software can produce accurate while the backup is carried out. Many SANs also offer storage utilization reports, making it easier for you to data “snapshotting” to produce images which can be predict and budget for future storage requirements. created and reverted to in a matter of seconds. And by purchasing additional storage “just in time” rather than in bulk, you can take advantage of falling • Disaster recovery: Your company’s SAN can extend storage costs. to a remote location with a secondary storage array using Fibre Channel over IP or iSCSI running on• Highly scalable storage: SANs are highly scalable, an existing WAN link. You can then carry out data as disks can be added to a storage array — and replication to the remote site to enable business additional storage arrays can be added — as your continuity in the event of an unforeseen disaster. storage needs increase. • Support for heterogeneous operating system• Highly available server systems: Your servers can environments: SANs are OS agnostic. That means be configured to boot from the SAN, allowing that SAN storage can be shared by servers running you to cope with faulty servers with a minimum of different operating systems including Windows, Linux interruption. This is done by replacing a faulty server and UNIX. with a similar one and then reconfiguring the SAN so that the replacement server boots from the same Buying and Implementing a SAN storage space, or LUN, previously used by the faulty server. This operation can be carried out in less When purchasing a SAN, the most important decision than half an hour — far less time than it would take is choosing the right storage array with the most to configure, patch and commission a server from appropriate connectivity. For most small and medium- scratch. sized businesses iSCSI technology is probably more cost effective than the more expensive Fibre Channel• High availability support in virtualized server alternative. The array will include a controller to carry out environments: In virtualized server environments a many tasks including data caching and handling RAID virtual machine stored in your SAN and running on a operations. server that develops a fault can be transferred from the faulty server to a replacement one automatically SANs use a logical unit number (LUN) to identify and instantly without any interruption to the running individual logical disks — the storage resources that a of the virtual machine at all, using technology such as server using the SAN sees as its own local storage. That VMware’s Vmotion or Microsoft’s Live Migration. means that when you buy a SAN it is important to ensure that the storage array supports enough LUNs for your• Better data protection: Using a large storage array needs: an array that supports 16 LUNs can only be used containing many disks it is possible to protect your by a maximum of 16 separate servers sharing the storage data using higher levels of RAID (such as RAID 50) pool. than may be possible using internal server storage, NAS or DAS devices. 7 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage InsightsIt is also prudent when you make your purchasing usually take the form of a high-bandwidth IP networkdecision to plan for how you would cope with a disaster segment with fast Ethernet switches. By ensuring thatthat made the data stored in your primary storage a high degree of redundancy is built in to your storagearray(s) unavailable. If you plan to use a secondary array network topology you can help guarantee that your dataat a separate location for disaster recovery, make sure will be available even in the event of a switch or otherthat your primary array supports remote replication. If networking hardware failure.you don’t plan to implement remote replication then analternative is to copy stored data to tape and transport it Conclusionoffsite manually. A storage area network gives growing businesses aAnother important choice is the SAN management long-term solution to the problem of data growth. SANssoftware used to administer the SAN, allocate storage provide a scalable storage infrastructure that supportsspace, implement data protection, optimize performance heterogeneous environments and helps IT administratorsand for many other functions. Without good management with storage tasks like backup, disaster recovery and datasoftware a SAN is effectively useless, and not all SAN protection.hardware is supplied with appropriate software. Dell’sEqualLogic range of SAN storage array devices are Businesses that are struggling to keep up with thesupplied with a comprehensive set of SAN management demands of data storage and are ready to move beyondsoftware tools for configuring, assigning and protecting direct attached storage should consider a storage areastorage quickly and efficiently, as well as Dell’s SAN network to help them efficiently manage and protectHeadquarters SAN monitoring software. their data.You will also need a dedicated storage network to moveyour data between your storage array and your serversand between storage arrays. For an iSCSI SAN this will 8 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage Insights Does Unified Storage Make Sense for Your Business? By Drew Robb U nified storage is many things to different stored and backed up rapidly. But the rise of the file server people. It can mean combining Fibre created another need. IT needed to manage individual Channel (FC) and Ethernet over one cable, files more efficiently, which gave rise to centralized NAS the convergence of a local area network filers optimized for file-based storage.(LAN) and a storage area network (SAN), or in the casewe’re discussing here, the consolidation of file and block But the continuing explosion in storage demands hasstorage on one device. The goal called for yet another conceptof this type of unified storage — both file and block on oneis to improve utilization, boost unified device. While largerproductivity and make it far easier organizations can afford to haveto manage the infrastructure. one team dealing with block and another one trained in file-based“Unified file and block storage storage, growing businesses areaccess in the same product seeking to reduce expendituresor box means flexibility while by assigning fewer IT staff toreducing complexity and cost,” cover a wide range of functions.said Greg Schulz, an analyst with For those organizations, havingStorageIO Group. “By being both types of storage on one boxflexible, you have the ability and makes economic sense.agility to reconfigure the storagefor different use scenarios over “Smaller organizations gainthe lifecycle of the product.” greater flexibility while being able to consolidate and meetNot so long ago, however, you the needs of applications thateither went with file or block require block while leveraging filestorage. File-level storage access,” said Schulz.concerned network attached storage (NAS) systemswhere the data was stored and retrieved by a file system. To operate effectively, unified storage has to encompassBlock-level storage, on the other hand, dealt with writing several protocols. File storage utilizes Common Internetdata directly to disk at a physical level. It is typically File System (CIFS) or the Network File System (NFS), whileassociated with the SAN. A new breed of unified storage block storage uses Internet SCSI (iSCSI) or FC. Each ofsystems combines file and block storage onto one device these protocols can be accommodated on one box.— along with plenty of additional functionality. Purely on the hardware side, placing everything on oneFile and block evolved, of course, as they held advantages machine means fewer cables, a significant drop in auxiliaryfor specific functions and environments. Block storage is equipment and a much smaller footprint. Those managingepitomized by the SAN. Vast amounts of data could be hardware reap the reward of accessing simplified systems 9 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage Insightsthat disguise much of the esoteric plumbing that has a couple of hours in the event of a disaster as comparedacted as a barrier to broad adoption of technologies such to five days in previous DR testing.as FC in the IT shops of growing businesses. As a result,a wealth of new features becomes more widely available Another organization — a college with an almostin a unified storage platform. This includes such features completely virtualized VMware infrastructure — optedas deduplication, solid state drives (SSDs — also known for unified storage as a way of speeding up its virtualas Flash), storage tiering and the facilitation of large-scale machines (VMs). Its aging storage array and NAS boxesserver virtualization. were unable to support its storage needs. Therefore, the institution simultaneously consolidated 75 physicalData deduplication, for example, eliminates duplicate servers down to 10 and implemented unified storage. Byfiles, thereby reducing storage needs by an average having VMware on shared storage, the IT staff no longerof 20 times. Tiered storage, too, can be more easily needs to come in during nights or weekends to resolveimplemented at relatively low cost by harnessing a server failures. If a VM fails, a new one is on standby andunified storage platform. This enables organizations automatically fails over.to set up different layers of storage with varying levelsof performance: high-performance, FC-based disk formission critical data and other tiers for less used data. Asunified storage systems can scale to hundreds of drives,businesses can assign as many as they need for highperformance. The remainder can be divided between fast-spinning SAS drives and slower SATA drives.Enabling VirtualizationOne of the big drivers for unified storage is virtualization.One company in the financial services sector, for example,experienced a doubling of storage needs within an18-month period. Having data spread across dozens of fileservers and NAS boxes was proving inefficient.The company embarked upon a server virtualizationstrategy but realized it needed to flank this with a smartway to consolidate storage. Unified storage allowed the IT Another benefit was being able to serve up data rapidlydepartment to provide the highest levels of performance to college instructors who might require remote access toto the most critical applications while consolidating all high-end programming, computer aided design (CAD),storage on a single platform. In addition, the company has multimedia and other applications so they could gradeplenty of room to scale upwards as needed in the future. student work or prepare lesson plans at home. Unified storage provided these capabilities while loweringUnified storage also improved the disaster recovery (DR) the data center footprint, reducing power and coolingcapabilities of the organization. Vital banking applications, demands and lowering total cost of ownership. At thesuch as check imaging, remote deposits, customer same time, the amount of storage capacity on hand wasinquiries and online banking were previously spread greatly increased.across multiple servers. Restoring these files in the eventof a disaster was a slow and painful process. By harnessing In this case, though, the tiered storage consisted ofone unified storage array, all data could be restored within several 70 GB SSDs, as well as dozens of 450 GB and 600 10 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.
    • Data Storage InsightsGB FC drives. Flash was used due to its superfast read I/O without moving parts so reliability becomes much less of apotential to support the VMs and VMware-based virtual concern — no more having to deal with hard drive failures.desktops. FC disk hosted student files, media serving,distance learning data, the student records database and Further, SSDs use far less power than regular disks.email. The college IT department reported a major boost inFC disks are faster than the drives found in servers, but performance, as well as more simplicity, efficiency andtheir best response time in light traffic is 6 ms. As the flexibility. As a result of built-in file compression, dataworkload increases, performance falls off sharply. Flash, deduplication, multiple RAID options and support of bothhowever, provides access rates of 1 ms or less no matter 8-gigabyte FC and 10-gigabyte Ethernet, unified storagehow much traffic there is. There are even some kinds of platforms are designed to accommodate the latestSSDs that provide access rates of around 0.01 ms — 250 technological developments.times better than regular hard drives. This is achieved 11 Back to Contents Data Storage Insights: Exploring Data Storage Options © 2011, Internet.com, a division of QuinStreet, Inc.