Storage a growing concern

The industry is moving from server-based storage solutions to a topology in which data actually resides on the network array, according to Hewlett-Packard’s Leonard Trollope.

Trollope, an enterprise storage program manager, said in the past companies would have a disc array, and now they have a storage solution.

“People are seeing that they have tons of storage and they have manageability problems,” he said. “How do they make it available and manage it 24 by 7?”

HP hopes their XP512 storage solution will be the answer. It is available on the HP-UX environment, Windows and Solaris. It is attached to the network and has a random input/output of 165,000 IOPS.

Trollope said they are promoting an open storage area network (SAN) where any server can talk to any storage device.

“In the SAN environment one server can access one group of storage at any time and then you would have different users with read or write access,” he said.

The “completely redundant” large enterprise array holds 512 discs worth of data, and configurations of the XP512 can range in price from $900,000 to $15 million.

“The entire product is designed to be 24 by 7. If you want to change it or update it, you can do it while the product is still working,” Trollope said.

He added this product will help companies consolidate their storage solutions and storage centres. The creation rate of on-line data has doubled because of the trend towards wireless offices.

Richard L. Ptak, vice-president at Framingham, Mass.-based Hurwitz Group, agreed that storage is becoming an increasingly important issue.

“There is the volume of information and having transparent and easy and fast access to (data). It is becoming a major problem, so businesses are definitely interested in the storage industry,” Ptak said.

Storage solution providers are making strides in the direction of meeting storage needs, according to Ptak.

“Are all of the needs being met, and is this the end of the road for development and innovation? By no means. There’s plenty of room for innovation and I think the interested parties are out there,” Ptak said.

One eager player is Exabyte Corp. The Boulder, Col.-based company has launched the Exabyte 430 Tape Library, which can hold up to 4.5 terabytes of compressed data.

The library is compatible with all major operating systems and allows the user to write from one tape while backing up on another, according to the company.

Karen Cryderman, manager of public and investor relations for Exabyte, said people need to give more thought to storage today.

“They have more data,” she said. “When you get the bigger tape libraries like this one, you’re investing in space, but you are also getting other features, such as Ethernet connectivity and bar code reading.”

She encouraged companies to start small and then build onto their libraries as needed. The 430 can hold up to 30 cartridges and starts at US$20,000.

Another HP product, the SureStore AutoBackup, is a network attached storage product. Paul Patterson, sales development manager, information storage products at HP, said they developed this product when they found that clients on the LAN were not backing up their own data.

“So the server was getting backed up, but the clients were not,” Patterson said. “Clients had different places to go to get backed up – whether on-line, tape, CD-Writer – but they weren’t using it for whatever reason.”

SureStore AutoBackup will do a handshake on the client the first time the user goes to backup, Patterson explained.

“It will connect to the device and then say, ‘Okay, do you want to back up?’ and then go through some questions, like how often do you want to backup, do you want to backup just the C drive,'” he said. “Then it goes to the next person. And as it’s backing that person up, it will only save what is different from the previous or other back ups.”

The application also has an administrative component, which shows users who have backed up.

AutoBackup is sold in two sizes – 25 clients or 100 clients. The 25-client system is priced at $6,639 and the 100-client package is priced at $14,749.