Storage technology will change drastically, but the only way to become more efficient is to understand what you have, and what you need, according to an eWEEK Europe panel debate
Backup should be routine housekeeping
Backup can be a major source of wasted hardware and time, said Jones: “You may have up to five times as much data backed up as you need, in the form of multiple copies. For some organisations backup is their biggest application, which is perverse – backup should be a housekeeping activity.”
Another measure of efficiency is in staff costs, as some data administrators can manage around 200TB, while others manage 50TB – but the question “how much storage is each specialist in charge of?” is probably more revealing of the kind of data an organisation has – and how volatile it is – said Jones: “Every environment is different and there is no right answer.”
Technologies that companies should look at include snapshots, deduplication and virtualisation, as well as thin provisioning, said Jones, but which you do will depend on the results of an audit. The options will also depend on your storage vendor , said Macarthur, as different providers may throw in favoured technology for free.
Future issues: tape, SSD and pooling
Some people may move data from tape to disk now, to improve their backups, said Jones, but looking further into the future Hamish Macarthur suggested that others might find they can eliminate disk in the long term, especially as solid state disks come into their own: “Today we are using SSD as a performance enhancement for arrays,” he said, “but this may change.”
The move to blades presents some users with an option to move to direct-attached storage, pooling the disks supplied with each blade, said Macarthur, but there might be a more efficient way to do it by using shared storage: “You can buy the blades without disks and save on expenditure.”
There is a possibility that storage is growing too cheap, leading to uncontrolled growth – but the evidence is against that, because IT organisations are all too aware of the real costs, said analyst Macarthur.
In the end it comes back to the audit, which should show you how to make prorgress in efficiency. And while this might start out as a way to save money, it might lead to other benefits, said Wilton. One Unisys survey recently found a significant number of hard disks were missing in an audit, and the company was at risk of losing data.