Data Storage Solutions - Best Practices Part One

Posted by Mark Teter, Chief Technology Officer
November 17, 2011

Despite their remarkable dependability, surprising problems still lurk inside disk drives—drives sometimes suddenly fail, bad drives lock FC loops, and fi­rmware bugs corrupt data. These are precisely the reasons you should implement data storage solutions based on best practices, explicitly designed to help you minimize threats and maximize opportunities for your business.

Data storage solutions, and subsequent best practices, vary greatly by manufacturer and implementation, which makes a universal perspective difficult to articulate. However, all companies require a robust storage infrastructure. And these days, everyone needs to make the most of limited resources without sacri­ficing service levels, limited budgets, and future scalability.

Here are ­the first two of five tips to help you establish a storage infrastructure that makes the most of your resources and realizes the highest possible ROI.

1. Leverage tiered storage. Like most businesses today, your company depends on the availability of electronic data. While your data storage needs grow exponentially along with your business, your budget does not.  To make the most of limited resources, organizations should ask, “What data and applications warrant the added cost and complexity of a SAN? What storage should remain on less costly server-attached RAID? What is the ratio of application ­les (fairly static) to data ­les (very dynamic)?”

Every company has several types of data and applications, and each piece provides different value to the company. When you implement a tiered storage structure, you align your storage infrastructure costs with the business value of each kind of data and application. When your business requirements correlate with your storage tiers, you save money.

The concept behind tiered storage is simple: You invest the majority of your storage resources in the fastest, most reliable devices for your highest-valued data and applications. This investment helps your business operate more effectively, more reliably, and more productively—ultimately making your business more profi­table. Today, this storage might include the new Solid State Drives (SSD) emerging on the market.

Likewise, you place your less-critical and less-valued data and applications on slower and less expensive storage. This includes any data that requires large amounts of storage, but users don’t access very often—such as e-mail data retained for U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, for example.

2. Perform an extensive application workload analysis. Once you implement a tiered storage structure, you need to populate the tiers with data and applications. To make the most educated decisions about the range of data storage solutions you need and determining which data and applications belong on each tier, you should perform an extensive application workload analysis.

In particular, you should determine I/O processing demand and latency requirements before deploying primary applications on SATA storage. Ultimately, this helps your company balance the availability and redundancy of the diff­erent data types with the various storage costs. You can determine which performance trade-o­ffs your company can accept—specifically, which data and applications can leverage lower cost storage infrastructures and which cannot.

Our next blog will cover the remaining 3 data storage solutions best practices, so check back shortly. In the interim, what are your best practices that you can share?

About Mark Teter Before he retired from ASG in 2013, Mark Teter was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the author of 'Paradigm Shift: Seven Keys of Highly successful Linux and Open Source Adoptions.' As CTO, Mark regularly advised IT organizations, vendors, and government agencies, and he frequently conducted seminars and training programs.

Filed Under: Data Storage

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