Ramping up Secondary Storage


Tough economic times inevitably lead to belt-tightening, not just in IT but in all facets of an organization. When it comes to long-term storage, however, the pressure to cut costs is running headlong into the cold reality that data loads and discovery requirements are not diminishing just because business activity is slowing down.


That means 2009 is shaping up to be a year in which some creative solutions will be required to stretch your secondary storage capabilities to the limit.


According to Eric Burgener, senior analyst at Taneja Group, the old-style monolithic storage architectures of the past are no longer sufficient. He argues for ramped up deployment of scale-out architectures that provide for denser storage. These designs not only allow you to increase capacity into the terabytes, but to scale performance and capacity separately, putting an end to over-provisioning. One crucial point, however, is to make sure your system supports numerous interfaces, such as VTL, NFS and CIFS, in order to afford as much flexibility as you can muster.


Not surprisingly, there are a number of vendor solutions all aimed at teasing the most out of your secondary storage. Much of the activity is going toward simplifying the process of searching and acquiring data on the secondary tiers.


A British firm called Tarmin Technologies has introduced a system called GridBank, said to enable easy access to secondary data as if it were still on primary storage. The system uses a grid-based service command layer between the enterprise network and secondary storage along with an advanced management system that spreads data across multiple storage clusters. The system scales from 4 TB up to 20 PB.


Index Engines is focusing its efforts on quickening access to the slowest medium of all -- tape. The company has joined forces with Quantum Corp. to boost the performance of backup, recovery and archival systems by linking its Tape Engine indexing and extraction system to Quantum's Scalar tape library. The pairing is intended to foster eDiscovery capability on the Scalar platform by increasing the speed and agility of the search and recovery process and by allowing access to data without the need for full restoration.


There comes a point, however, that regardless of system architecture or management platform, more storage is needed. That's why firms like ProStor Systems are upping the capacities of their platforms using higher-capacity disk drives. The company recently added 500 GB drives to the InfiniVault, increasing the total capacity from 32 to 50 TB. The system also boasts new software that provides integrated support for NFS, LAN backup and the ability to recycle WORM disks once the files they hold have expired.


Investments in secondary storage can always be pitched as a cost-saving measure that frees up space on more expensive primary tiers. But for the moment at least, the practice of simply adding more storage whenever the need arises probably won't fly with the bosses. Until the money starts flowing again, it will be up to you to squeeze every last byte out of all your storage.