IT Management

Are there any opportunities here for you? Yes!

Consider the typical vendor’s sales approach. The vendor approaches you with a story of how they are going to save you money. That’s always interesting, right? They tell you they have the ability to consolidate the many primary storage systems that you currently have down to just a few. They explain the super performance and scalability capabilities they have. Because of that, they can take the various databases and applications that are spread among multiple subsystems and reduce that to one or at least few. You get improvements in performance, fewer components to manage, etc. That may sound OK to you, but you wonder why you would want to put all of your eggs in one basket. They tell you about all the redundant parts, etc., and then they say that even with that, if there is a failure, they have Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks 1 (RAID 1) mirrored physical copy to protect you.

OK, but what about data corruption? For that, vendors will sell you what can generically be described as mirrored physical rotation copies. In this situation, you potentially buy as much as seven times more storage (in this case, disk) capacity. The value for you is that there is a RAID 1 relationship established, which means that for every change on the primary disk volume, an identical change is made to a redundant backup volume. Every three hours, you would rotate out the current copy, and re-establish the oldest copy from 24 hours ago. The controller will remember all of the changes that have been made in the past 21 hours and apply them to the newly established redundant backup volume.

Hence, if you have a data corruption problem, you simply figure out how long ago the corruption started and recover to a period of time just before that. Right. The problem with corruption is like standing at the bottom of a mountain: You look to the top, but you can’t see the snowball gathering speed, size, and kinetic energy, until it is nearly on top of you, and then it is too late. One very large Web-based auctioneer learned that the hard way, and guess what, its corruption exceeded the length of time the company had mirrored copies of data waiting on redundant disk.

Nevertheless, today, there are ways that you can migrate the data off of very expensive high-end disk with street prices of $90 per GB to a less expensive method. Here is how it can work. Imagine that you need 1TB of storage. Using the mirrored physical rotation approach of protection you could buy as much as 8TB for instantaneous recovery from a hardware failure and 24 hours of corruption protection. That will cost about $1,015,000.

OK, let’s start cutting costs. Another approach is to use a virtual storage device that can create mirrored logical copies using virtualization products. Without taking a nosedive into the technology, suffice it to say that the only data that is physically stored from one copy to the next is what changed, not a completely new physical volume times seven (seven extra copies of data for instantaneous protection, corruption, and file deletion protection). To you this means you get the same protection for a third of the price. Want more?

Another emerging technique employs what could be described as continuous real and logical protection. In this case, the redundant copy is kept on an appliance that is greatly reduced in price through the use of Advanced Technology Architecture (ATA) disk arrays. The cost for protection could be reduced to about $140,000 and it also has enough space to provide one to two weeks of corruption protection!

Great! Now go back to the extra disk capacity you have on expensive high-end disk, the other 7TB, move your backup data to the ATA device employing continuous real and logical protection, and use the space now open on the expensive disk for your growth requirements. Specifically, defer the cost of buying any new disk. Remember the business? Grow the business, but you have to do it with a flat or declining budget. By the way, if the terabyte of primary storage was that important, you need to have that backed up to tape and in a vault for safe keeping. You can do that for about $30,000. Even if you don’t want to put the backup copy on tape, you can still use ATA disk for about $15 per GB vs. $90 per GB.

This is just the beginning! However, let’s shift our focus to examine the tactics to significantly reduce spending for managing the protection of primary copies of data.

Tactics for Reducing Spending    

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