Cloud Storage to the Rescue?

Most organizations are being overrun with data -- or, more accurately, with the storage required to house and protect the many redundant copies of data that continue to be generated unabatedly.

In these times of cost reduction and consolidation, we must ask ourselves whether there are better ways to manage the glut. Unfortunately, companies have been grappling with this issue for more than a decade. And thus far, the technology options have come up short in addressing the core issues plaguing storage management: unbridled data growth, poor resource utilization and ineffective planning. The latest technology with promise is cloud storage. Will it work any better than the others?

Thinking back to the early days of SANs, one of the primary justifications for moving away from siloed direct-attached storage in favor of storage arrays and SAN infrastructure was the promise of greater efficiency through improved resource utilization. While SANs might have brought other benefits, such as improved availability and recoverability, utilization continues to be less than optimal in many environments.

The next big initiative was information life-cycle management. By devising a strategy for storage allocation and distribution based on the business value of data, the theory went, we could reduce quantities of expensive high-end storage and thereby shrink costs. The result: A lot of organizations bought additional tiers of storage, but not a lot of savings materialized -- at least not nearly the amounts anticipated.

A more recent technology enhancement is thin provisioning, which although promising remains a somewhat niche technology because of current application and operating system constraints. Another is data de-duplication, which was designed primarily to achieve a more favorable cost point for disk backup compared with tape. Both thin provisioning and data de-duplication will help drive storage efficiency in the future.

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