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Hot Spots: Web 2.0 storage: Challenges and choices

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Persistent data (no more post it and forget it). Users generate new content every day. Whatever form the content takes (a product review, a blog, music or video files), it remains unchanged and is retained. Most (if not all) uploaded data remains online until a user cancels their account, which they often don't bother to do. This requires massive amounts of available storage.

Cost. Given the potential raw amount of required storage--which can reach multiple PBs of capacity--it's very difficult to scale a high-end storage system in a cost-effective way. Think about the best-known Web 2.0 companies and you'll see that most of their best offerings are free or very inexpensive. That means accompanying infrastructures need to have low operational costs so that the Web 2.0 business model has a shot at success.

Reliable and predictable performance. We can't talk about cost without talking about performance. While it's true that Web 2.0 services aren't typically tied to Wall Street trading apps, the customer experience is still an important factor. Users want to view stored files, images and videos in a timely manner or they'll switch to another service. Users typically become frustrated after waiting just a few seconds and give up if they have to wait too long. Service outages aren't acceptable and that type of news travels fast in the Web 2.0 world. The infrastructure supporting

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these applications must stay up 24/7, 365 days a year.

These days, it's clear that Web 2.0 features can benefit companies in vertical markets ranging from manufacturing to health care, retail to executive recruitment. Whether or not the Web 2.0 projects in those companies are handed to employees inside or outside the IT organization, storage professionals and their IT environments will be impacted.

When considering the storage infrastructure required for successful Web 2.0 initiatives, what's the best way to proceed? One way to answer that question is to start with a build or buy analysis.

This was first published in November 2007

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