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Infrastructure Modernization

How to Get a Grip on Storage Growth (and Reduce Costs)

Too much data! According to a couple of recent surveys administered by IBM and other research organizations, up to 80% of data stored on hard drives is “unstructured.”  Simply put; this means messy, unorganized, redundant and duplicated files. But you still have to back it up – over and over and over again.

To add insult to injury, you are running out of space on your file servers or NetApp or Celerra, and you need to buy more disk shelves and hard drives. Wait, isn’t that array coming off warranty causing you to have to pay $20,000 for the next YEAR?? Someone just called and said the Windows file server that the corporate office is using is giving a warning that it is about to run out of space, but there is no downtime allowed and DON’T ARCHIVE ANYTHING. Did we forget to mention that you haven’t finished a full back up on time in a month? Budget numbers are due in the next two weeks. What will you do?

  • What if you could find a product to help you get rid of the clutter and junk, reducing the use of your storage by 50%, without the end users even being aware that their old data is now on a SATA array stuffed with 1 TB drives?
  • What if you could now complete your backups with hours to spare?
  • What if you can finally prove that Marketing has been storing multiple copies of those huge PowerPoint presentations with wanton disregard for the impact on overall storage utilization?
  • What if you could put off the storage expansion indefinitely?
  • What if you could migrate the data off of that old array without any downtime, and push that boat anchor out to the loading dock and save $20,000 in your budget?

What if?

It will only get worse. According to IDC, way back in 2005, average growth rate of corporate data was 60% annually. If you need 10 TB today, you will need 16 TB next year, unless you take action. Your storage services model will NOT BE SUSTAINABLE without a new way of looking at managing storage.

File System Virtualization

We have virtualized servers, and we have virtualized storage. Now the time has come to tackle the messiest and biggest storage problem of all: cluttered, congested, sprawling file storage systems. All of the scenarios I described above are based on real life situations, with real GreenPages customers. What they all have in common that file system virtualization can help them with, is files (lots and lots of them) being served to their end users via Windows Shares (CIFS) or NFS exports, on Windows, Linux, Unix, NetApp or EMC Celerra file servers. (Sorry, Mac and Novell users, we have to talk to you separately…).

What does “File System Virtualization” mean? It means that you separate the physical location of your files from the means to access them. Put in place a proxy to the file systems without disruption to your business. No agents, no forklift upgrades, no sweeping changes of your client drive mappings. This can be done at network speeds. The end user requests a file from his home directory, sending the request to the proxy appliance which has mapped out the location of all of the files on every filer and server in the network. The request is terminated, and a new one is created to fetch the file and return it to the end user, with no one the wiser. This is done largely in hardware, at RAM speeds. No latency.

Take it a step further. You scan those file systems, and move everything that hasn’t been touched or changed in a year off of your expensive/old/overloaded filer to some new inexpensive iSCSI storage (about $2/GB!!!), and you have freed up 65% of your storage! Back up the stale data once a month, slam shut that big backup window, call your storage vendor and tell them to cancel that order for the new storage array, or better yet, trade in the old Chevy for a new BMW and show off the latest in thin provisioning and built-in storage virtualization features, all without a “maintenance window.”
Now you have a real archive system that reduces the file system utilization without “stubs” or pointers! Migrations for replacing hardware or load balancing take place without the pain of Robocopy or Rsync.

What Can Do All This? What Is the Solution?

What can do this? F5 Acopia ARX Appliances, in combination with any number of second tier or nearline storage devices that your Friendly Neighborhood Storage Architect can recommend.

  • Archive to Enterprise Vault FSA? Done.
  • Archive to Data Domain? Done. (Oh, and this solution REPLICATES your archived data to an undisclosed offsite location.)
  • Tier your gluttonous Art Department’s image files to some inexpensive EMC iSCSI storage (yes, they make inexpensive storage….sheesh!)
  • Trade in that old SDLT tape library for a sleek little LTO4 autoloader.