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Implementing a storage vision

Making that switch from direct-attached storage (DAS) to a storage network is a big step, one that can managed by understanding each of the advantages and challenges involved.

Making that switch from direct-attached storage (DAS) to a storage network is a big step, one that can be managed by understanding each of the advantages and challenges involved. One way to get off on the right foot is to implement a storage vision as author Bill Williams discusses in this article provided by InformIT.

Now, more than ever, companies are adopting storage networks as fundamental building blocks of a storage vision that addresses the capacity, utilization, and management issues related to data storage. This broader strategy or vision is designed to:

  • Reduce the overhead associated with providing storage solutions
  • Maximize critical business continuance capabilities
  • Increase the performance and flexibility of the overall data storage infrastructure

A storage vision begins with the migration to storage networks, and proceeds with the decommissioning of DAS. A storage vision also requires the classification of environments into tiers and the creation of a service-level framework to measure the efficacy and performance of storage-related deliverables. A storage vision culminates in the ability to provide storage services in a utility-like fashion. The net effect of a storage vision is an overall lower TCO for storage.

The need for low-cost, highly-available storage solutions, coupled with the high demand for long-distance replication functionality (spurred by legislation and security concerns), has helped to increase sales of Fibre Channel (FC) storage networking and optical transport products. This increase in product sales occurred even as disk revenues fell dramatically in 2001 and 2002. The management burden of DAS and the difficulties of managing heterogeneous storage on an FC storage network have led to an increased interest in IP storage networks. It is the belief of some vendors that a strong Fibre Channel infrastructure facilitates the adoption of Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI), Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), and IP over Fibre Channel (IPFC).

The soft economic climate of the last three years has fostered the realization that not every application requires five-star accommodations. Application environments are now consolidated to conserve resources. Likewise, business processes are now modified to provide service-level management (SLM) frameworks that match an application's needs to the most appropriate and cost-efficient storage solution. Service-level management is an increasingly important concept in storage management, and, as shown in the case studies in Part II, "Case Studies," SLM forms the framework around which solid storage visions are currently built.

Five years ago, the typical IT department was asked to provide the most expensive server and disk solutions for every conceivable array of applications. At that time, it was customary for IT departments to provide storage capacity based on poorly scoped application requirements. Then, it was acceptable for IT to serve strictly as a cost center. Those days are over. Now, the focus is on cutting costs at a time when legislation and competition actually create new requirements and drive increased costs. In addition, data storage is growing at such a rate that cutting costs without a storage management strategy is almost impossible.

To understand the importance of a storage vision, it is necessary to look at broader trends in the market. An analysis of the overall storage and IT spending rates for the last several years is illustrative of the current storage management headache facing today's IT decision maker.

Read more of this article at InformIT.

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