Finding a place for your stuff: 5 top storage solution questions to ask yourself

Storage always makes me think of the late, great George Carlin’s classic comedy routine about stuff.

“Sometimes you’ve got to move, you’ve got to get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff! You’ve got to move all your stuff. And maybe put some of your stuff in storage. Imagine that – there’s a whole industry based on keeping an eye on your stuff!”

Carlin had no idea. That’s because data – the kind of stuff IT decision makers lose sleep over – is growing at an mind-boggling rate and has made finding smart, cost-effective ways to expand hardware and virtualize storage one of their top priorities.

So how should you decide on the mid-range storage solution that’s right for your organization? Here are five questions to ask that can help you figure it out:

1. What’s the management interface? One claim virtually all storage vendors make is that their solution is easy to use, a benefit that’s usually centered around the graphical user interface (GUI). But don’t be fooled, it’s not simply about easy on-screen navigation – though that’s important. True ease of use depends on the functionality available in the GUI, elements like a visualized task flow, an integrated video instruction set and browser-based capabilities that allow for access from any platform. Remember, the degree of navigational difficulty that takes advantage of this sort of functionality varies widely between vendors. [Read more…]

Mixed storage too much to handle?

For some time now growing organizations have responded to exponential data growth and the need for more storage capacity for their different applications by simply buying new disk storage systems. An additional server here, a storage area network there. It worked well enough in the short term but because organizations – particularly those in the healthcare, retail and government sectors – were essentially building separate and dedicated storage islands, data management complexity increased and so did costs. Not to mention the resource constraints – both physical storage resources and human resources – IT organizations face if this complexity and growth remains unchecked.

Among the many pitfalls and challenges related to these heterogeneous storage environments:

1. Poor storage utilization rates of different SANs
2. Increased time to administer the storage
3. Expensive to purchase snapshot/replication licenses on multiple SANs
4. Difficult to migrate data between storage systems
5. Increased energy and floor space costs

That’s where storage virtualization comes in – [Read more…]

How not to get stung by storage virtualization: Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I blogged about how more and more companies are catching on to the value and importance of virtually storing their data. Storage virtualization offers the flexibility to simplify and modernize IT systems and control costs with as little disruption to a business’s data availability as possible. But while it can be a boon to a company’s ability to use available resources efficiently and cost-effectively, there are some risks.

I’ve already touched on two risks – failed implementation and challenges with interoperability. Here are three more:

Risk 3: The challenge of complexity

An important objective of virtualization is reducing and hiding the complexity associated with managing discrete devices. But while a virtual storage infrastructure benefits from a single point of logical disk and replication service management, there can still be some complications. According to informIT.com:

“…although shared storage represents a major technological advance over direct-attached storage, it has introduced its own complexity in terms of implementation and support.”

Plus: [Read more…]

How not to get stung by storage virtualization: Part 1

Storage virtualization isn’t just the buzz term du jour. More and more organizations are transitioning antiquated legacy storage environments into more flexible and agile infrastructures that can help reduce waste, outages and labor, maximize operating efficiency and performance – and, of course, save a lot of money. In fact, by some accounts, for every 12 terabytes of usable disk capacity, there is the potential to save $1 million in net operating expense.

That’s a lot of savings. But, like other types of virtualization, this one isn’t all mom and apple pie either. Transitioning to a virtualized storage environment comes with some risk and potential disruption to your organization, which I’ll review in this post and the next. But just like climbing a mountain, once you understand and mitigate the risks, reaching the top is that much more rewarding.

Risk 1: Failed implementation

As with any upgrade or conversion, there’s a chance that things won’t go exactly as planned at some point. Once the virtual storage system’s abstraction layer is in place, only the virtualizer will know where the physical data is, so you’ll need to have a back-out procedure in place in case something goes wrong and the implementation fails. It may be time-consuming but the alternative – not knowing where your data went – is obviously worse. [Read more…]