Local factor touted as key to storage services

For a network manager, finding a good data storage solution for your company can be a tough task. In addition to cost, meeting company needs in data archiving, network compliance, security and disaster recovery are vitally important.

One data storage company representative thinks there are answers on the horizon that will help managers meet these goals.

Toronto-based StorageFlex Inc. provides hardware and software network storage products to companies around the world. Speaking at the IT360 event in Toronto earlier this month, Paul Chan, president of StorageFlex, discussed new and emerging technologies and trends in network storage at a session titled, Strategies for Cost Effective Network Storage.

Chan said more localized service support for end user companies is an emerging trend in data storage. This movement, he said, helps to keep costs lower for end users and wholesalers alike.

“Everybody that’s still in business today has good products. The difference is that customers want proven support. After the sale, they know there’s local Canadian support and especially in the hardware business, the products are located locally. The wholesale support is very key,” Chan said.

Chan said another trend emerging trend is power consumption — an issue that has considerable economic and environmental impact. “On hard drives, their design is for a 24/7 environment. There’s a lot of power consumption when there’s heavy I/O activity. There is now a new push to start to stagger the drives so you can almost put them asleep,” Chan said.

“Overall, the system has to have a more efficient use of power consumption. We’re still a couple of years away from being a commonly deployed strategy and it would be a more inner-component solution.”

In terms of the storage technology, Chan said one technology in particular will be used by industry more often in data archiving: Blu-Ray discs, a high-density disc format that uses blue lasers to read and write data onto discs with considerably more memory on them than traditional red laser discs.

“Different mediums will be used for different purposes. In the case of Blu-Ray, it’s one of several choices in the optical media format. An optical will still have its place for long-term retention and data archiving,” Chan said.

“Blu-Ray, we believe, will be in the best position possible to be a mass market-adopted solution because it is licensed to multiple vendors. It has the backing of the data storage world.”

Chan said these changes to data storage won’t always replace older forms of data management, including tape back-up and conventional discs. Many companies, Chan said, can’t afford to spend considerable amounts of money on big storage products. “Depending on the complexity, the customer may want multi-terabyte storage, snapshots and tape back-up, so [the price] could balloon up to $95,000. The disc, optical and tape technologies will continue to have a place in the marketplace.”

One analyst said that data storage on Blu-Ray, while an emerging technology, still has several disadvantages over other archival storage methods.

“From a cost-effectiveness standpoint, tape storage is going to provide a better solution in terms of security and encryption features. A lot of people talk about disc storage in that it’s becoming really cheap. We’re seeing these price pressures more so in tape systems,” said Vasu Daggupaty, research analyst at IDC Canada.

“Tape has a lot more experience and vendor support — there’s a lot more experience in deploying tape technology. Blu-Ray will have to overcome some of those hurdles first before it becomes accepted.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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