June 23, 2008 By Chandler Harris
As increasing amounts of information are being collected, CIOs are seeing an exponential demand for data storage. As energy prices soar, IT budgets fall, and data accumulates, public CIOs are looking for cost-effective, environmentally conscious ways to manage their data.
Disk backup provides a faster, affordable alternative to tape-based data storage. Governments, such as Fulton County, Ga., have purchased disk-based data storage systems (also called virtual tape libraries) to provide more capacity and eliminate the need for additional tape.
Some organizations have begun to assign data by priority to multiple data storage units in a technique called tiering. Organizations can save money by utilizing expensive Tier 1 data systems for vital data and cheaper storage systems for lower-priority data. Tiering can also reduce the amount of storage data, thus further reducing costs, and it cuts down on network traffic by taking rarely used data offline.
Information life cycle management
After implementing a Tier 1 disk-based storage system, Fulton County, Ga., soon realized that memory would run out eventually. The county therefore developed an information life cycle management plan to prioritize data, purchasing Tier 2 and Tier 3 data storage systems for archival purposes. As Gary Shoemaker, business development manager, EMC explains, "Information life cycle management is having the data on the right piece of storage at the right time -- at the right cost."
As the amount of stored data accumulates, data duplication becomes more common, filling servers with excess information and forcing organizations to buy more data storage space. Data deduplication is a fairly new technology that reduces data storage space and cost; it maximizes data storage space by deleting or not saving redundant data. Deduplication is found primarily as a feature of hardware- or software-based storage management programs rather than as a stand-alone product. According to Stan Zaffos of Gartner, "data deduplication translates to ... a big impact from a green perspective as well," eliminating unnecessary storage space.
Storage virtualization creates abstractions of actual hardware storage devices, allowing users to access storage without having to know where or how the storage is located and managed. This trend allows organizations to share storage across multiple servers, simplifying data migrations and the need for new equipment. Seattle has recently implemented this method of storage, using only five physical servers in the Seattle.gov portal. Virtualization reduces both power consumption and the demand for new hardware. Jeff White, storage specialist for CDW-G explains how, with virtualization, "You're saving in hardware costs. You also save money since managing one server versus 10 is a whole lot easier for IT staff."
Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)
Called "iScuzzy" by industry insiders, iSCSI is an IP-based storage networking standard that links data storage facilities. It allows organizations to deploy storage area networks (SANs) by increasing the capabilities and performance of storage data transmission. iSCSI is much simpler than the fiber channels previously used by SANs, which were often too complex and expensive for smaller organizations.
Outsourcing data storage
Some organizations have begun outsourcing their data storage needs in order to save money. Data storage outsourcing, or, "storage as a service," provides contractual data storage needs for a monthly fee. Vendors will "take responsibility of assets, maintenance, software upgrades, patching and technology upgrades," explains Don Teague, vice president of Savvis Federal Systems. Organizations using storage as a service will benefit from decreased capital expenditures and disaster recovery.
The bottom line: There is no one solution to the issue of data storage. However, using one or a combination of these new storage trends will help CIOs to save money, simplify their data, and reduce their carbon footprint.
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