Data storage – the bigger picture

Technology and information law are two of the central pillars of our practice. We know the law around data storage – keeping it safe, how long to retain it and so on. However we also try to keep up-to-date with the wider challenges facing our clients in the provision and receipt of data storage and similar services, including in particular the technology options available to suppliers in this field.

If it is hard enough for you to comprehend the 300 gigabyte storage capacity of the hard disk drive on your office or home PC (which believe me is massive), spare a thought for data centre managers who have to grapple with terabytes and petabytes of information, and the ever increasing demands placed on their storage resources and budget. Storage Area Network (“SAN”) and Network Attached Storage (“NAS”) systems are scalable to manage storage needs, but is throwing more tin at the problem the solution?

More data means more storage. Right? Wrong. The savvy data centre manager knows that he not only has to manage increasing levels of data, mainly mission critical, but he also has to keep an eye on Capex and Opex. He is focused on return on investment and total cost of ownership. He therefore will be contemplating, if not already doing so, implementing a strategy centred round simplifying his storage infrastructure, not adding complexity and cost. At the same time he will be looking for ways of making it more efficient and looking to the future needs of the business. He should therefore be looking at optimisation. He will do this through virtualisation, consolidation and automation. And looking to the future, he will be looking at convergence of the storage network with the IP network.

In running a virtual environment, he will consider virtual storage, and running virtualised backup using virtual tape libraries utilising data deduplication and  thin provisioning technology.

Looking to the future he will possibly look to converge the fibre channel storage network with the Ethernet IP network, on fibre channel over Ethernet, (FCoE) and run his SAN and LAN on the same wire.

All these technologies are designed to increase optimisation, reduce cost and deliver better levels of service to the business, all with a short return on investment cycle.

Martin English (trainee) and Eleanor Peterkin

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