Enterprise Storage: Helping Organizations Handle Larger Volumes of Data

By Krishnakumar Madhavan, Head IT, KLA Tencor Software India

Enterprise storage is a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management and protection, as well as data sharing functions, through connections to numerous (and possibly dissimilar) computer systems.

Enterprise storage is meant to help the larger organisations to handle large volume of data and lager volume of end users. It is a centralised storage repository which can be categorised into two Storage Area Networks (SANs) or Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices.

Primary storage stores the data of the end users accessing actively. Backup storage stores the information in primary storage in order to help the disaster recovery situation. A secondary copy may be required in other circumstances. Backup storage is closely related to archive storage, wherein enterprises keep outdated information saved for compliance or other purposes.

Advantages of Enterprises storage: Cloud deployment

Organisations can neither choose to purchase nor store with external cloud computing device. Cloud based enterprise storage simplifies storage management and reduces the cost. Some companies use both on premise and cloud-based storage.

Enterprise storage solution enables file sharing. It offers security features like user-based permissions, that aren't commonly found in consumer storage solutions. Enterprise storage provides better performance, reliability, availability and scalability.

Enterprise Storage Net­working and Management

Enterprise storage devices utilise similar technology as consumer and small business storage solutions. Enter­prise data storage offers higher re­liability, availability and scalability; the output of enterprise storage generally costs more than what it costs to consumers or small busi­ness. It requires more time and ex­perience. Consumer storage vendors take a plug-and-play approach, and enterprise storage networks are run by specialized personnel or admin­istrators. It includes technology and processes to help the organization to control and maintain their storage systems.

Enterprise Storage Implementation

If we decide to deploy a new enterprise storage system, we face a number of choices. First, we must decide whether to design and build our own storage system or to utilize a cloud-based storage service. If we decide to use a cloud computing service, we won't have to make very many decisions about the hardware and network architecture, because the cloud vendor will handle those for us. Generally, the deployment steps for cloud storage will be fairly simple: Select a cloud service that meets our needs, sign up for the service and configure it to work with our existing applications and networks. Our most important task will be researching the services to make sure that we get one that can meet our needs and work with our current infrastructure.

Three Steps to Deploy On-Premises

The following are the three steps for deploying on-premises storage network. The process involves setting up the physical hardware and cables, migrating data, configuring the devices and testing the system.

1. Choose a Storage Media

If we decide to build our own storage system, we'll have to make some additional decisions. For e.g, we'll need to select which storage media to use: Tape, Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) or solid state drives (SSDs). Tape is the least expensive medium, but it’s performance and capabilities generally suits only for backup and archive applications. HDDs are more expensive than tape, but they offer the higher performance required for primary storage. SSDs cost the most of all, but they offer much better performance and reliability than either tape or HDDs. Many organizations prefer a mix of tape, HDDs and SSDs, and some storage devices themselves include a mix of HDDs and SSDs.

2. Choose Storage Architecture

We also have to decide on our storage architecture. Enterprise storage can include Direct-Attached Storage (DAS), Storage Area Networks (SANs) or Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices. DAS devices connect directly to an individual PC or server and donot offer the same collaboration capabilities as networked storage. However, we do gain collaboration advantages from SAN and NAS devices. SANs provide block-level storage for access by servers, while NAS devices offer file-level storage for access by end users. Many organizations use a combination of DAS, NAS and SAN devices.

3. Choose a Network Protocol

We need to choose which network protocol to be used. Our options include the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP), Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) and Internet SCSI (iSCSI) protocol. The type of storage architecture we select will impact which network protocol(s) we can use. For e.g, Fibre Channel and iSCSI are SAN protocols, while NAS is an IP storage protocol. Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) has emerged as one of the way for Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks to converge.

Enterprise Storage Technology

One of the primary organizations associated in setting standards for the enterprise storage industry is the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). It has published several standards, including the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), Solid State Storage Performance Test Specification (SSS PTS) and the extensible Access Method (XAM) specification. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) publishes the TCP/IP and iSCSI protocols. The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) publishes Fibre Channel specifications.

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