What are some of the challenges of data management/consolidation?
There are many, here are some of the more interesting ones:
Interoperability: Is the data consolidation solution an open solution? Many proprietary solutions won't let you replicate data from one vendor platform to another. There are plans to include this but the only way to implement this now is to rely on a virtualization appliance or software management tool.
Cost control: The economy is ripping through capital expenditure budgets but business data is growing out of control. This is driving a demand for commodity priced storage. Storage vendors that normally were looking solely at the larger enterprise environments are now taking a hard look at the smaller business markets to keep afloat. The problem? Do you go with the name brand and pay $150,000 for a 1TB or do you go for the commodity route and pay less than half? Answer -- if the solution can be demonstrated as viable and reliable and the service is reputable, then why not?
Keeping educated on technology: Small, fast storage startups, big name storage vendors and software companies are providing a bewildering variety of hardware and software solutions to choose from. What works, what doesn't? Who's going to be around to support it? Answer -- Many are in the same boat. How do you control the costs and simplify management? The simple answer is that there are a number of viable offerings out there and the big name brand is not the safety net it used to be. Educating the decision makers and understanding the requirements and goals of data environment is the key.
Disaster recovery, business continuity, business resilience: Everyone agrees this is a good idea but how do you implement this successfully and how do you insure that it works? Is a massive capital investment necessary to insure this? Aggressive education, commitment from management to implement and investigation into the many different strategies are the key unless you want to turn the entire solution design and implementation to others.
Clustered file systems: The holy grail of SAN storage. Ideally, you would have your SAN pool be one that shared a common file system that your host servers are able to access simultaneously and which intelligently manages file locking, etc. -- all at Fibre speeds. This would eliminate NFS overhead and increase performance and uptime as well as facilitate backups. Do you have an enormous amount of data sharing requiring slow NFS/CIFS mounts or FTP transfers? There are solutions out there that will eliminate this for you even if you have obscure OS mixes such as Linux clusters and Mac OSs. None are perfect. There are obstacles in performance, failover, reliability and heterogeneous limitations but depending upon your requirements there are good solutions out there that are working for real world environments.
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This was first published in October 2002