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Modern Data Centers Battle Exponential Data Growth

Decisions on storage should be made in the context of a balanced equation which includes the business need and the cost involved to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of each storage device.

Eric Polet is Product Manager, Emerging Technologies, for Spectra Logic.

Organizations today are incredibly dependent on both their computer systems and the information that they store. Data continues to grow exponentially and, despite the current economic climate, the demand for data storage has not declined.

In fact, data storage has become a hot topic of discussion, as organizations contemplate how to store the mass amounts of data they’re generating. Trends such as increases in user-created content, coupled with mounting pressures from regulatory compliance, are causing society to store more information over longer periods of time.

Simply adding more storage capacity to keep up with this data growth is no longer an acceptable strategy for organizations faced with constricting budgets, physical floor space, and power and management resources. Enter the need for a modern storage solution, built on principles of high density and low power consumption.

Designing a Modern Storage Infrastructure

Is there a new technology or strategy available that can help organizations overcome the challenge of data growth that is outpacing their budgets? The simple answer is no. However, there is a technology that has been around for quite some time that fills all the storage requirements of today’s organizations – Tape.

Organizations looking to implement a modern storage architecture find themselves leveraging flash, disk and tape, to create storage infrastructures capable of storing data with a balance of speed of access and affordability. Tape, in this instance, provides the greatest density and lowest power consumption.

Tape has been considered a dying data center technology in recent years; but as the data and storage landscape continues to evolve, it has continued to stay relevant, due to its extreme density and low power consumption. While disk-based solutions are often considered for data protection scenarios, as opposed to traditional tape, the question for the majority of organizations is not about whether to choose between the two technologies, but about how to use them both effectively in modern tiered-storage architecture.

Put simply, decisions on storage should be made in the context of a balanced equation which includes the business need and the cost involved to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of each storage device.

Reasons for Extraordinary Data Growth

Organizations of all sizes are grappling with the need to keep larger and larger volumes of ‘business critical information,’ as well as ‘other’ information, for longer periods of time. There are many reasons behind this extraordinary data growth, that vary by organization, but are largely concerned with: 

  1. Organizational requirements to hold more detailed information on products, services and customers that will shape business strategy, drive growth and increase service levels (business applications and data warehousing).
  2. User-driven growth in unstructured content, through the increasing use of images, video and audio, alongside more traditional content.
  3. The need to mitigate risk influenced by both internal policies and compliance with externally imposed regulations, requiring data be stored for longer periods of time.

At the end of the day, IT managers are less concerned with the causes of this exponential data growth, as they are with how to store it all. This is especially taxing in the area of backup and archival storage, where company data is being kept for longer periods of time. The challenge for organizations becomes balancing out the need to accommodate storage requirements and budgets, with the business imperatives of compliance and protecting company data from the many threats that can result in catastrophic data loss.

Final Thoughts

The roles of disk and tape have evolved in the data center and are complementary in fulfilling best-practice strategies. Organizations are able to leverage the high performance of disk and flash for business-critical data, and utilize tape for its superior density, longevity and affordability.

In many environments, tape is no longer the primary backup target for significant applications that have stringent recovery and access requirements. Yet, it continues to maintain its role as the primary backup and archive target for applications with less stringent requirements, and for data protection and total cost of ownership (TCO).

Tape has a prominent role in modern storage architectures where data center density is required to keep pace with the exponential data growth facing today’s organizations. It is a cost-effective medium for migrating older backups from more expensive disk-based targets. Tape should also be viewed as the lowest cost and most dependable data protection media to store archived data for long periods of time.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.


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