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- Explore deduplication. Deduplication products look for duplicate copies of files or data blocks and store the unique data only once. Some will deduplicate data as it's moved into or removed from storage, while others can substitute duplicate data with placeholders that point to the original copy.
- Consider storage virtualization. Storage virtualization allows you to disconnect the disk space used by your server data from your physical disks. That means a volume that's presented on the network as server1directory1 may actually not be anywhere near server1 physically. Because virtualization lets you move data without impacting user access, you can consolidate data from a dozen physical servers to a single storage silo. Further, if you combine storage virtualization with thin provisioning you'll have an extremely flexible storage system.
- Don't limit mailbox sizes. Rather than setting hard limits on mailbox sizes that force users to save local .pst files that can't be backed up, use an archiving tool that moves old messages to secondary storage. These tools leave stubs in place of archived messages; when a user tries to open an archived message, it's automatically retrieved from the secondary storage. This keeps mail server storage at reasonable levels and ensures that all email is safely archived and searchable.
- limit home directories. While it may be tempting to set hard limits on the sizes of users' home directories, this encourages them to move the data elsewhere, usually to their local PC, where it may not get backed up, can't be indexed and searched, and generally can't be managed.
- You can effectively manage capacity without denying services. Capacity management policies are often perceived as a way of ensuring that users or apps don't take more storage than their "share." But this can lead to a lot of time spent trying to comply with inflexible or confusing rules. Instead, think about managing capacity rather than controlling it; this will save space, limit liability, ensure availability and give users what they need to get their jobs done.
This was first published in October 2007