NETWORK STORAGE: Vanilla Terabyte Ain’t Enough



If information is power, storage is the reservoir of that power. Enterprises
can do better in their business with a storage solution that takes care of not
only their present needs but also future ones.

As information and knowledge has become the key to the success of all
businesses, data, next to employees, has emerged as the second most valuable
asset of an organization. The data that is stored today could pay dividend over
the years and would be key to the achievement of an organization’s business
goals. However, storage is still not a plug and play affair for enterprises.
They must go through a complex web of technologies and solution to understand it
better.

Technology Options

SAN or NAS, or the Best of Both? The debate that whether an enterprise
should go for SAN or NAS is increasingly becoming irrelevant. In fact the terms
SAN and NAS would soon be junked. What is emerging instead is a convergence of
SAN and NAS evolved into a single technology that includes the benefits of both.
Enterprise must accept (some have already) that any efficient storage
infrastructure requires both SAN and NAS. Some industry observers believe that
in three to five years, customers will insist on multilingual systems that can
speak block-based protocols, like Fiber Channel and iSCSI, as well as file-based
protocols.

Data
Creation–Full Throttle

In
2001, the University of California (Berkley, USA) study had stated
that while it has taken the mankind 300,000 years to accumulate 12
exabytes of information, it would take just 2.5 years to accumulate
the next 12! Believe it or not there will be more data created in
the next three years (57 million terabytes) than the entire data
created in the past 40,000 years. Indeed, the past few years have
seen a hitherto unheard amount of data creation not only in the
business world but also in other areas of activity. Data-intensive
applications like ERP and CRM among others, Internet Web content,
large databases, and enterprise data warehouses and data marts, have
been in turn creating the need for a mind-boggling storage capacity
in enterprises. Also driving the need for storage is the growing
mass of digitized reference information and legal retention
requirements. Market trends show that the need to store information
for future reference is growing at a fast rate.

According to the
research firm Gartner since 1996, most enterprises have been adding
storage capacity at a rate that exceeds 30 percent per year.
Interestingly, Gartner says, the slowing of the economy has not
eliminated the need for more capacity. The research firm observes
that more important than the capacity increase, the information in
its multitude of forms has become more mission-critical, even for
applications previously not thought of as mission critical (for
example, e-mail). All this has naturally put a lot of pressure on
organizations to maintain storage performance and availability and
to better manage investments in storage capacity.

n Enterprise
Storage Automation:
It could be every enterprise’s dream come true as far
as managing storage is concerned. Enterprise storage automation manifests a
comprehensive range of solutions that integrate all major areas of storage
management – data availability, storage resource management, media management,
and SAN and NAS storage management. It will provide the foundation for
intelligent, rules-based, and policy-driven storage management. It will
automatically discover storage resources as they are added to the infrastructure
and intelligently configure those resources, allocate capacity, balance
workloads, move data to the most appropriate storage, and manage backup and
recovery. To top it all, all this can be done without the involvement of a
storage administrator; at the same time, it will provide for full administrative
and managerial control whenever necessary.

n Disk-to-disk
to Tape:
Tape isn’t dead but it is fast loosing its prominence as a backup
medium to disk. Not only are disks getting cheaper and better, they also offer
faster back up. The tape drive takes 20 times longer to backup and retrieve data
than disk drive. Tapes are now used more for archiving. Historically, tape has
been the preferred method used because apart from being cheaper than disk
drives, tape cartridges were portable and could be stored away from the computer
system. On the other hand, the disk drive was internal to the PC, it could not
be removed and/or stored easily or conveniently. However, today the cost of disk
drives is as competitive as tape systems. Even more important is the fact that
tape is slow and sequential making it difficult to find files quickly. Disk
drives on the other hand, offer direct random access, significant time saving
(time = money), and read/write efficiency that translates into increased
productivity and lower operating costs. Overall, disk-to-disk backup technology
enables fast, transparent protection and dramatically speeds time to recovery.

n SNIA Shared
Storage Model:
The Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) Technical
Council has developed a framework that captures the functional layers and
properties of a storage system, regardless of the underlying design, product, or
installation. Much like the OSI 7-layer model in conventional networking, the
SNIA Shared Storage Model may be used to describe common storage architectures
graphically, while exposing what services are provided, where interoperability
is required, and the pros and cons of each potential architecture. The model
describes architectures, but it is not itself an architecture. You cannot buy
it, or a system that it describes by specifying it in a bid, or a request for a
bid. You cannot “build it”. Shared storage is a powerful concept,
bringing together into single storage systems essentially unbounded collections
of interconnected and geographically unconstrained storage resources and
management capabilities. The power of the shared storage environment lies in a
richly interconnected set of resources and defining the storage environment as a
storage system in its own right. The former opens many avenues for exploiting
connectivity. The latter enables the storage system to be the focus of
invention, deployment, and operation as an entity independent of the hosts that
it serves. The SNIA Shared Storage Model has three main components within its
scope: the file/record layer, which includes databases and file systems; the
block layer, which includes both low-level storage devices and block-based
aggregation and finally a services subsystem, which provides functions such as
the management of the other components.

Storage
Companies

l
Brocade
l
Computer Associates
l
Cisco
l
Dell
l EMC
lFujitsu-Siemens Computers
l
Hitachi Data Systems
l
HP
l
Hitachi Data Systems
l IBM
l
Iomega
l
Legato
l NCR
l
Network Appliance
l
Quantum
l
Seagate
l SGI
l
Storegetek
l Sun
Microsystems
l
Veritas

n Hierarchical
Storage Management (HSM):
HSM is a policy-based management of file backup
and archiving in a way that uses storage devices economically and without the
user needing to be aware of when files are being retrieved from backup storage
media. Although HSM can be implemented on a standalone system, it is more
frequently used in the distributed network of an enterprise. The hierarchy
represents different types of storage media, such as redundant array of
independent disks systems, optical storage, or tape, each type representing a
different level of cost and speed of retrieval when access is needed. The HSM
name signifies that the software has the intelligence to move files along a
hierarchy of storage devices that are ranked in terms of cost per megabyte of
storage, speed of storage and retrieval, and overall capacity limits. Files are
migrated along the hierarchy to less expensive forms of storage based on rules
tied to the frequency of data access. File migration and retrieval is
transparent to users. Two major factors, data access response time and storage
costs determine the appropriate combination of storage devices used in HSM. A
typical three tier strategy may be composed of hard drives as primary storage on
the file servers, re-writable optical as the secondary storage type, and tape as
the final tertiary storage location. If faster access is required, a hard drive
can be considered as an alternative to optical for secondary storage, and WORM
(Write Once, Read Many) optical can also be implemented, in place of tape, as
the final storage destination. HSM is complimentary to, but by no means a
replacement for, data backup and archiving. The major purpose of backup and
archiving is to ensure recovery of data on the server if a disaster occurs. The
main goal of HSM is to better manage data storage costs and administration.

n iSCSI
Standard:
This year enterprises can expect lots of products based on iSCSI
standard. A number of storage solutions have announced support for iSCSI
following the standard’s ratification recently by the Internet Engineering
Task Force (IETF). iSCSI (pronounced “I-scuzzy”) allows the creation
of less storage area networks (SANs) using Ethernet infrastructures at a less
expensive rate than traditional Fibre Channel protocols. This would bring down
the cost of storage networks down. The Internet SCSI (iSCSI) protocol enables
block level data to be accessed anywhere within an IP/Ethernet network.

n Storage
Virtualization:
Storage virtualization is one of the hottest areas today.
Why? The need for storage is rising exponentially, and storage virtualization
allows users to cut costs and increase flexibility. Put simply, storage
virtualization separates the representation of storage to the server operating
system from actual physical storage. Storage virtualization promises to enable
users to pool together data from any type of physical device. Here, the pooling
can be done irrespective of the vendor or device type. However, vendors have
been providing their own definition of the term, depending on whether they are
offering virtualization at the storage device, network device or server level.
But what remains to be seen is whether virtualization solutions offered by
vendors are fulfilling the promise of unifying devices. According to Aberdeen
Group, storage virtualization offers the ability to logically consolidate or
pool storage from various vendor sources and/or various storage systems on a SAN
and control over how that logical storage is configured and used. It also offers
utility software services such as remote mirroring and point-in-time snapshot
copying to facilitate ensuring business continuance and dynamic storage
re-configuration without interrupting applications running on host servers
connected to the storage.

n Storage over
IP (SoIP):
Storage over IP is gaining attention as the SAN market continues
to grow. SoIP aims to bring together differing network technologies and
standards to help business implement storage networks that offer SAN-like
functionality but leverage the ubiquity of IP-based infrastructure. SoIP also
aims to ease interoperability issues between fiber channel-based SANs by
offering a faster, easier way to manage, implement and maintain storage-area
networks. Vendors are using two techniques when developing SoIP SANs: tunneling
and native IP-based storage. Tunneling, which encapsulates Fiber Channel SAN
frames in IP packets for transport to another Fibre Channel SAN, makes sense
only when transporting information between Fibre Channel-based SAN islands.
Native IP-based storage integrates existing storage protocols, SCSI and Fibre
Channel, with IP protocol to develop native IP and gigabit Ethernet-based SANs.

n Storage
Consolidation:
Storage consolidation makes good business sense. It will
facilitate drastic reduction in storage costs (if planned and configured well),
and improves the overall quality of storage. Storage consolidation is the
pooling and allocation of shared storage resources among numerous application
servers. Instead of directly attaching devices to workstations and servers, the
network provides access to storage which is on a need/access rights, and timely
basis. Storage consolidation architectures are designed to address limitations
associated with DAS.

Buying Tips

n Standards: Since
the storage industry is yet to agree on a single standard, the best an
enterprise can do is to go for products and solutions that supports all the
prevalent standards and protocols and is interoperable with products and
solutions of the maximum number of storage and networking vendors. In other
words, a solution or product must be interoperable with heterogeneous server,
operating systems, storage software products, network connectivity elements, and
other devices ranging from HBAs and drivers to switches and tape subsystems.

n Scalability:
Today storage needs are growing at a fast speed owing to a number of
factors. This means that not only should one deploy solutions keeping in mind
the needs of the next two-three years but also a solution that is easily
scalable. And it must be optimized to meet demands for capacity, new
applications, and service levels.

n Flexibility:
A storage solution must offer ease of integration, installation,
configuration and operation.

n Look for
These as well:
Look for the backup and restore speed offered by the
solution. See if the storage software has a centralized cross platform
enterprise administration for all platforms from a web-styled interface? Does it
have integrated disaster recovery & bare metal restore? A solution must have
industry-leading consolidation capabilities and advanced software functionality
and availability and data integrity to provide end-to-end information protection

Market Information

Year 2001-02 saw storage requirements expanding on one hand and IT budgets
getting squeezed on the other. The size of the total Indian storage market in
terms of volume was approximately 1,700 TB. This was a growth of 70 percent in
terms of volume.

Direct attached storage (DAS) predominates the Indian storage market, with a
market share of 74 percent. This, however, is less than its 80 percent share in
2000-01. Storage area network (SAN) and network area storage (NAS) accounted for
16 percent and 10 percent of the market share respectively. The reasons for slow
migration of enterprises to network storage include cost and
implementation-related issues, poor client awareness and the pressure to justify
RoI.

The storage software market is valued at Rs 73.5 crore, a growth of 70
percent over the previous year. HP-Compaq at 63 percent accounted for the
biggest market share in the hardware space, followed by IBM, Sun, and Network
Appliances.

While there were a lot of activities happening on the storage
hardware front, the storage software front also witnessed a flurry of
activities, with quite a few vendors establishing or augmenting their marketing
activities in India. Besides established players like Computer Associates, other
players began to put India on their map of operations. While vendors like
Brocade established their presence in India, Veritas set up its marketing
activities, previously it just had a development center here.

Let Your Vendor Answer These

CxOs and IT heads need to answer the following questions
before they can come up with a comprehensive need analysis of the storage
software requirements:

  • What impact does non-availability have on your users?

  • What is the cost of changing your storage configuration?
    What processes do you use to make a change? How long does that take, and how
    does it affect users?

  • How do you manage data access?

  • How do you plan for storage growth and usage? What is
    causing this? What projections do you have for storage growth this year?

  • What cost has been incurred due to loss of data or
    unauthorized access? What caused this?

  • What processes do you use to detect bottlenecks on the
    network? What impact do these bottlenecks have on your business?

  • How do you detect capacity short falls? How do these
    short falls affect your organization?

  • How effectively are you using your storage devices? If
    you could improve the utilization of your storage devices, how would it
    affect your budget?

  • How do you forecast capacity growth?

  • What impact would centralized management have on your
    organization?

  • How much of your budget is dedicated to data protection?

  • How is data important to your business?

  • What are the costs of system downtime?

  • If your data is not available 24×7, what impact does it
    have on your business?

  • How fast are data volumes growing? Have they outpaced your percentages for
    headcount and budget? What impact will it have on your organization? What
    has caused the data volumes to grow?

In late 2001, virtualization emerged as a buzzword with most
vendors announcing their plans and unveiling their strategies of management
software. At the fabric and router levels, the players are HP-Compaq and
Brocade. Veritas has moved virtualization into the fabric level for NAS and SAN
from the host level. Players at the host or server-based levels are Sun, CA, IMB,
EMC, Compaq, and HP. Virtualization is said to realize the full potential of a
SAN and NAS environment. There are vendors offering solutions for NAS. For the
SMEs, virtualization in a NAS environment is possible but not with DAS. Storage
virtualization is yet to make way into India.

Enterprise storage solutions are generally more complex and
extensive and are used by large and medium organizations. As SMEs move up the
value chain in terms of intelligent use of information, they will be forced to
consider the use of intelligent enterprise storage.

Banking and insurance, telecom, and energy segments, are
witnessing an exponential increase in their storage requirements and are
shifting to a network storage environment.


EXPERTS
PANEL

Agendra
Kumar,
country
manager, Veritas Software
Arun
Rao,
national
manager (storage business), CA
P K
Gupta,
director
strategic development (intercontinental operations), Legato Systems
Simon
Harvey,
MD–APAC
(storage solutions group), Quantum Corporation
T
Srinivasan,
country
manager, EMC
Vikas
Nandalal,
sales
specialist and product manager (storage services), Tata Internet Services

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