27 billion gigabytes to be archived by 2010

IT executives clamor for ways to prune and centralize their mushrooming data stores.

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"What is interesting now is the fact that there are so many different types of data files and that they vary so much in size," Reichman says. "Many of these files are associated with less mission-critical applications and are therefore not structured in the way that database files are. They are also scattered across departments. Many companies are now using tools to begin saving files centrally rather than having them floating around."

Get It Together

Indeed, IT executives from a variety of sectors agree that there's a need for storage centralization. Before pushing in that direction, the University of Pittsburgh had little control over capacity gobbled up by course management applications and scattered data warehouses.

"A decision was made to implement a new, centralized storage management solution and to move away from discrete storage for specific initiatives," says Jinx Walton, the school's director of computing services and systems development.

The university settled on an IBM storage infrastructure that will afford the institution 350TB of capacity and more flexibility through life-cycle management. "The centralized storage solution provides the ability to effectively allocate and remove storage to meet the needs of specific projects," Walton says.

Amusement park giant Six Flags Inc. also had no interest in maintaining a decentralized storage infrastructure. "We have re-engineered our environment over the past year and a half and have moved to a central storage farm at each facility, as opposed to having DAS [direct-attached storage] in each server," says Michael Israel, Six Flags' senior vice president of information services.

Israel also highlights his organization's rollout of a centralized e-mail platform, which doubles as a way to improve data replication and disaster recovery capabilities.

Six Flags had to examine storage issues surrounding a major new business intelligence push as well. "Providing internal users with marketing data related to sales trends, season pass holder information and inventory analysis are just three areas where we have required an increase in online storage," Israel says.

Each of the company's 26 theme parks now maintains independent systems composed of HP ProLiant DL360 servers outfitted with NetApp FAS3030 storage systems. Data protection is centralized, since Six Flags' corporate data center houses NetApp SnapMirror software.

Centralization also makes sense on a security level, according to Robert Gray, founder of market research and consulting firm RobertGrayDirect LLC in Newton, Mass. "2008 will see an expanding market as fear and security concerns converge, solution-level products abound and wire-speed performance come together," he notes.

In the health care industry, security concerns are naturally paramount.

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