Data Storage Solutions - Best Practices Post Two

Posted by Mark Teter, Chief Technology Officer
November 28, 2011

Data storage solutions, and subsequent best practices, vary greatly by manufacturer and implementation, but all companies require a robust storage infrastructure. Today especially, everyone needs to make the most of limited resources without sacri­ficing service levels, limited budgets, and future scalability. In our last blog, we discussed the <first two of five data storage solutions best practices>:

1. Leveraging tiered storage

2. Performing an extensive application workload analysis.

Here are the remaining 3 best practices for data storage.

3. Consolidate storage pools as much as possible.
Another helpful strategy for managing costs is physical centralization of your storage. This not only centralizes troubleshooting and remote maintenance, it centralizes administration, which eases task automation and reduces human intervention. Physical centralization o­ffers better information life-cycle management across the storage pools and shares peripheral storage—that ultimately increases overall reliability. Additionally, physical centralization reduces business continuance (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) costs and improves failover execution.

When you consolidate storage pools, you also increase your data availability without su­ffering the exponential costs often associated with it. This allows non-disruptive online modifications, provides multiple and redundant paths between applications and data, and off­ers better overall data protection options and facilities.

You might also consider creating a highly scalable and configurable storage solution when you consolidate storage pools. This o­ffers the ability to adapt to unpredictable growth, as well as the ability to separate your storage access from your data access.

4. Implement staged backups.
Although tape is seemingly inexpensive, you can easily underestimate the total cost of ownership. However, if you incorporate disk into the backup and recovery process, you can implement an eff­ective strategy that trims IT costs and reduces the complexity associated with data protection.

Disk-tape backups separate the backup target from the backup archive. Disk-based backups allow backup software to operate normally, except this strategy first writes backups to disk. Once copied on disk, the backup image is then cloned to tape.

When you incorporate disk-based backups into existing data protection processes, you can greatly simplify data protection management.  That’s because you can perform disk-based backups virtually any time without a significant impact on primary applications and databases. And when you keep backup images on disk, end-users can quickly recover their own data without intervention from IT personnel.

Disk-backups also extend the investment life of existing tape media and tape devices. Often, incorporating disk backups allows IT organizations to defer and even eliminate the need to invest in additional tape resources, backup media, and IT staff.

Once on this secondary storage, you can back up your data to tape and send it off-site, possibly in encrypted format, for robust data protection.

5. Automate discovery and reporting.
Simply storing data isn’t enough—you also need to be able to locate and retrieve it. Without adequate discovery and reporting, storage documentation is incomplete and inaccurate.

Unfortunately, as storage grows, so does the manual process of administrating it. Rather than investing in more resources, however, you can implement automation tools to automate discovery and reporting. Not only do such automation tools help manage IT costs, they also make your existing storage administrators more e­fficient, reducing potential mistakes.  Storage administrators can manage more storage, more effectively, while still meeting growth needs.

Automation tools provide valuable information that you can use to closely manage the most expensive tiers of storage and focus the majority of growth in lower-cost tiers. Again, it’s important to maintain the balance your business requirements with the tier of storage in order to make the most of your resources.

Although you can’t control all the potential problems disk drives present, you can implement these data storage solutions and strategies to help minimize threats and maximize opportunities for your business. Data affects your business so you should have the storage infrastructure that makes sense for your company, to get the most out of all your resources.

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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