In a year when storage solutions have been getting a lot of attention, it has taken the tragic events of Sept. 11 to move the need for storage from many CFOs’ wish list to their must-have list, according to executives at some of the industry’s top storage companies.
Mark Canepa, Sun Microsystems Inc.’s executive vice-president of storage products in Burlington, Mass., suggested that this expected shift in prioritizing storage is a direct result of our newly formed collective awareness of the reality of potential disaster.
“Data centres are generally pretty robust,” Canepa said. “Before now, people worried about losing power or having water damage. Now we know that a whole room could disappear.”
Canepa explained that Sun Microsystems has a number of initiatives in place to assist companies impacted by the events of Sept. 11, including a support hotline, the dispatching of support professionals into New York and Washington, and the provision of replacement hardware and software, which includes loaner equipment.
Jeff Goldstein, Network Appliance’s general manager for Canada, speculated on the challenges faced by those companies affected by the disaster.
“Of course you can replace the servers,” he said. “You call up your local server vendor – I think there are all sorts of manufacturers working overtime right now to help folks get back up on their feet – and you can provide them with disk drives, which you can provide them with quickly, but unless you’ve had a pretty good strategy around managing the data, and centralizing this asset called data, you’re in real trouble today.
“I bet we’re going to find, as we often do in natural disasters, that there will be some companies that never recover, because their most significant asset is not the equipment, it’s their people, certainly, and it’s their data that these people use,” Goldstein continued. “I think that perhaps in the World Trade Center [disaster] getting them back on their feet will be completely dependent on how well they managed their data.”
Until now, storage solutions have generally been regarded as an option for companies, but Edward Candolini, president of Hitachi Data Systems in Toronto, predicts that North America will follow in the European market’s footsteps, where replication is mandatory.
“Regulators are going to embrace storage,” he said, noting that Europe typically has an 18-month lead over this continent. “There’s really no choice if you want to accelerate business continuance.”
Canepa predicted that the need for storage will increase rapidly over the coming months and years within the public sector as well as within private companies as national security will be stepped up.
“The government will be keeping a lot more data about a lot more people,” he said. “This data will be richer and richer with information and content, and storage companies will need to provide this capability in a cost effective manner.”
Goldstein agreed that as the need for storage increases, the cost of the solutions will decrease, and articulated that preparation is the key to minimizing corporate losses in the event of another tragedy.
“I think data management is becoming extremely critical and that what’s happening now as the cost of managing data goes down, and the tools become available, even small organizations – not just the multinationals – will be able to implement much more effective strategies to manage data,” he said. “It used to be that you wanted to do disaster recovery, you had to spend millions of dollars. Today, you can very cost effectively take a copy of your data and send it across the street or across town or across the country.”
Learn more about Sun’s disaster recovery assistance and resources at http://supportforum.sun.com/recovery. For information about Network Appliance’s initiatives in helping victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy, go to http://now.netapp.com/public/letterfromdan20010919.shtml. For information about Hitachi Data Systems’ recovery efforts go to www.hds.com/company/news/press_room/greetings.html.