Efficient data storage: A guide for storage managers

Our efficient data storage guide offers storage managers tips they can use to save money, reduce their data footprint and get more out of their data storage

An interesting thing happened as savvy data storage managers started to see the light at the end of the recessionary tunnel. They not only realized that they had weathered one of the worst economic storms on record, but they did it with measly budgets -- while still managing to accommodate all that new data the business created.

But what's more impressive is how they made efficient data storage a reality. Not too long ago, the conventional wisdom was that you met capacity challenges by rolling more big iron out onto the data center floor. Hardly an elegant solution; just parking a new array on the floor was kind of a blunt-instrument approach to the problem, but there were few practical tools available to deal with the causes of skyrocketing capacity.

All that has changed -- and fairly quickly. Storage managers learned a few valuable lessons as they struggled to scrape by, the most important of which was it's better to figure out how to use what's already installed more efficiently than to add even more gear to manage. To do that there had to be a shift in data storage management from managing systems to managing data. Some of the tools to handle the new chores were already in place, like thin provisioning and storage tiering techniques. Practically every storage vendor offers thin provisioning as a system option, and more and more are joining the ranks of those now offering automated tiering tools to help ensure that data sits on the appropriately priced disk.

Using disk more efficiently and making sure data is in the right place are excellent steps, but still more control over data, on a more granular level, is needed to be able to wring out the greatest efficiencies. Data reduction technologies, once just a niche application supported by only a few vendors, have gained considerable visibility because they can help address the need for more effective management of stored data. These products address storage efficiency at the most basic level, and help conserve valuable disk space by compressing files to remove wasted space or by removing redundancies among all files in a group. The results are often dramatic, with required capacity often cut by half or more.

Thin provisioning, automated tiering and data reduction are perhaps the most talked about storage efficiency technologies, but there are others, too. And smart storage managers are building their own arsenals of efficiency tools to not only stretch their storage dollars but to take some of the complexity out of managing storage. We discuss all this and more in our guide to efficient data storage.
-- Rich Castagna, Editorial Director of the Storage Media Group

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO EFFICIENT DATA STORAGE

 Managing enterprise data storage more efficiently: Reclaim storage and consolidate data: There are a number of technologies data storage administrators can turn to in order to reduce and consolidate their data. The most popular techniques are tiered storage, data deduplication, space-efficient snapshots, thin provisioning and wide striping, solid-state drives (SSDs) and energy efficiency. Take an in-depth look at these technologies and see which one is best for you.

Managing enterprise data storage more efficiently: Reduce operating expenses using technology: Enterprise data storage managers have found they can reduce a lot of their expenses by adopting new technologies. Discover how capacity planning, automating storage with scripts, outsourcing data to the cloud and taking a long-term view on efficiency can lower operating expenses.

Dedupe and compression cut storage down to size: Data reduction technologies such as data deduplication and data compression have proven to be good strategies to reduce the amount of storage in your systems, and to save space and money. Take a closer look at these technologies and get more details on the primary storage data systems that now offer these technologies.

Tiered storage: A look at internal and external tiered storage models: Another way to reduce storage costs is by using tiered storage, and many organizations implement it to help them achieve their information lifecycle management (ILM) goals. Get a detailed look at both internal and external tiered storage tools and how they can help organizations.

How to improve power efficiency in archive hardware and on primary storage: Storage efficiency doesn't only apply to cost savings. Many users are actually spending money to get more power efficient storage. Learn about backup and archive power efficiency, as well as power efficiency on primary storage.

This was first published in March 2011

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