Your Storage buying guide

The problem is compounded when the budget is tight and businesses are looking to expand rapidly in economic revival

As businesses are growing, so is the amount of data at their disposal. Irrespective of the size, be it small, medium or a large enterprise, storage and retrieval of the ever increasing data has become one of the most critical aspects of organizational IT infrastructure. Selecting the right product that could solve current problems and is still flexible enough to be up-scaled in the future is the toughest task when business houses plan for their storage or server needs. The problem is compounded when the budget is tight and businesses are looking to expand rapidly to ride the tide of an economy revival.

The issues

Fix it only if it is broken: While pre-empting is good, for storage it is best to buy only what you need. Just ensure that you are geared up for easily expanding it rapidly, if needed.

Inorganic Data Growth: During their growth phase many companies have inadvertently exacerbated the problem by building infrastructure on a piecemeal basis that depends largely on the quick deployment of off-the-shelf applications. While this keeps initial spending low, it makes it more difficult to build a unified infrastructure in the long run. To tackle this challenge companies must look at storage consolidation.

Budget Constraint: Budgets today can be lean and mean, making it tough for the CEO or CIO to fund every strategic project that crosses his or her desk. Moreover, companies with smaller storage infrastructures tend to have a small IT staff. Proper planning and assessment of requirements is the key here. Most SMBs can reduce their budget by implementing ILM(information Life cycle management, which will help it in reducing the need for addition storage purchase. Moreover, for backup companies can look at Cloud Storage to reduce their Capex.

Lack of expert technical staff: Smaller companies tend to have fewer people doing more things, so broad-based expertise is needed together with simple tools that are easy to use, as there is limited time for training. The solution to this problem can be addressed at the time of buying only, look for solutions which are easier to manage and the vendor should be willing to provide you with support throughout. VAR or Value added resellers exist, for exactly this reason, to help you minimise your IT expertise requirements.

Data duplication: This may be by design or by accident. At times some companies make it a practise and they copy data into a client specific sub-folder for each client after theyve sent it to the client. This results in hundreds of copies of the exact same file on the server. There are many products in the market which helps you tackle this problem. For instance, Windows Storage Server 2008 has a feature called Single Instance Storage, basically this feature ensures that only a single copy of a given file is kept at a file level, but from the users perspective they will see it wherever they save it. These solutions makes you address these problems in a simple yet effective manner.

Characteristics of an ideal Storage solution

Simplicity: The concern that regularly percolates to the top is ease of install, and ease of normal daily use. If the complexity exceeds the capabilities of the resources available then failure is unavoidable.
Affordability: Budget dollars are scarce so an affordable acquisition cost and low operational costs are critical. If purchases can be delayed until needed, hence avoiding the costly practice of buying forward then significant savings can be realized.
Scalability: Any solution must be readily scalability in capacity and performance to accommodate data growth. It must also be scalable in time meaning that an existing investment can be transparently upgraded with new technology as it becomes available.
Flexibility: Flexibility protects the initial investment and is a key characteristic of a buy as needed solution.
Reliability: The burden of maintainability should be on the shoulders of the wan-a-be SMB solution vendors. Self maintaining and self healing technologies are a key characteristic of the ideal SMB storage solution and are a must for any meaningful SMB solution.
Data Integrity: While the value and criticality of business data is independent of enterprise size the severity of the consequences of data loss or corruption could be significantly different. Data protection technologies and methodologies that protect against data loss or compromised data integrity are a must for large and small enterprises.


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