The time is now to move storage from servers

InfoWorld |  Storage

At this moment, no aspect of enterprise computing deserves more attention than maintaining and storing corporate data. CTOs are increasingly abandoning traditional storage methods for more sophisticated approaches -- primarily SANs (storage area networks) and NAS (network attached storage) devices -- to contain the mountains of data their companies generate.

In 1999, only US$2.2 billion of the $30 billion spent worldwide on disk storage was spent on SAN or NAS devices, according to IDC, but this will shift dramatically in the next few years. IDC predicts that by 2003 combined NAS and SAN acquisitions will exceed one-third of the estimated $46 billion disk storage market.

When assessing your organization's needs, you'll have to answer many questions and consider several possible solutions before determining the enterprise storage method that best meets those needs. Finding that solution will depend on how tied you are to your current storage approach and on a careful assessment of future requirements.

InfoWorld recently surveyed more than 500 readers involved in managing and purchasing their organization's storage solution. The participants responded to an exhaustive storage-related questionnaire and revealed aspects of current implementations, plans for the future, and perceived problems and priorities.

The results of the InfoWorld Enterprise Storage Survey are impressive and sometimes surprising. They indicate that 96 percent of participants will increase their storage capacity in the next 12 months, and four out of 10 respondents expect to increase it by 50 percent or more in the next year.

If you are planning to add more than half of your company's current capacity to your storage pool, you should re-evaluate your requirements and explore possible alternatives that offer flexibility and are less costly to manage than current implementations.

If you've maxed out the capacity of your servers or storage cabinets, you are facing a more challenging task than simply adding a few more disks to the pool. You should also factor in the cost of managing the additional storage on a unit-by-unit basis, as legacy storage solutions demand. You are in for a big dent in your IT budget.

Resist the popular solution

An old IS axiom makes CPU, memory, and storage essential components of a computer. That probably trained us to purchase server boxes that included disk storage with increasingly sophisticated features such as RAID, which offers performance, resilience, and reliability improvements over JBOD (just a bunch of disks).

Offerings from top-notch vendors include life-saving options such as hot-swappable disks, redundant cooling fans and power supplies, multiple and increasingly faster SCSI controllers, and disks to absorb peak loads.

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