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Enterprise Data Storage Reaches for the Cloud

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Enterprise Data Storage Reaches for the Cloud

Mike Prieto, Vice President and General Manager, Storage Works Division, HP Asia Pacific and Japan in conversation with Geetaj Channana about the ways to curtail information explosion.

Q:What are the three ways of curtailing information explosion in an organisation?

A: In terms of optimisation and data reduction – thin provisioning, deduplication and tiering are the three ways to manage the explosive data. Thin provisioning is the ability of the system to distribute data to a large number of users to be used efficiently.

It is more like a debit system, rather than employees having 1 GB of available storage, they have a 100 MB, and as they use that 100 MB you are given more as you require. The clear benefit of thin provisioning is that it gives you reduction in disk space.

With de-duplication you reduce the requirement of disk capacity. Tiering enables you to organise the data requirements that you have and push it to various devices. This has the ability to optimise the data that you need in various scenarios. The benefits are in the form of management and automation.

Q: Unstructured Data – how to we solve the mess?

A: It is one of the biggest problems in storage. We have various products that specialise in handling unstructured data. They enable you to manage that, together with de-duplication and disk to disk backup.

Q:What according to you are the biggest challenges for storage virtualisation?

A: From my perspective the biggest challenge is around the planning and understanding of what-its-going-to-take-to-get-there. It needs to be well thought out.

The real benefit will be in virtualising an infrastructure end-to-end. You must not treat virtualisation in silos. Most organisations work on the server piece and forget about the rest.

You are going to get the best ROI when you have an end-to-end virtualised infrastructure. That’s where we can really help. We can provide this service to help you virtualise everything. We have IP in all areas including desktops, servers etc. to help organisations get there.

Q:What approaches should be taken while adopting a hybrid model with the cloud for storage?

A: It is a hard question to answer. There is no straight answer to this. You may have to go case by case. You may typically go with a consulting organisation to help you – it will depend on the size of the organisation and the number of data centres they have.

You would want the best returns from the investments that you have made in hardware by virtualising it – this is the underline while planning and assessing the systems.

You would also need to classify the application with the kind of service levels that you need with them. It needs to be well thought out. It leads me back to the question that you asked me about storage virtualisation challenges.

This is one of them – of being able to understand the service levels of applications in the application layer. You must understand which are the mission critical apps, tier 2 apps, etc. before you virtualise.

Q:How have the backup policies changed with the advent of cloud and virtualisation?

A: It is a very good question. Am not sure about India, but in certain countries in the APJ region, I can tell them that it is a risk and opportunity at the same time.  I see customers are still not addressing data processing well enough.

I am seeing customers who have made a significant investment in hardware in SAN technology for example to find out later on that there is no data protection strategy in place in the system. This is a huge risk.

With virtualisation you have the ability, but it is still not enough and you need a good DR strategy in place. It is important that you answer the questions of Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO).

Some of the first questions that need to be answered are: how critical is your data and how fast do you need it back. The next step is to figure out the technology that you may want to invest in. Virtualisation and cloud add to the choice.

Q:How important is de-duplication? Where should it be on the storage roadmap of the organisation?

A: I think de-duplication has gone from nice to-have to a must-have in an organisation. It is critical in terms of being one of the key pillars of the enterprise converged infrastructure strategy. The four pillars of this strategy are Platform Convergence, Storage Optimisation, Virtualisation and Management.

De-duplication is a key part of storage optimisation. It has become a necessity from being a luxury.

Q: Please tell us more about your Store Once product.

A: There are different technologies today for de-duplication. From a regional branch where you have a single node, to a regional office that has a few nodes to a data centre with many nodes you may need different technologies for de-duplication.

You may have to do the de-duplication process again and once you go from one site to another, depending on the technology. Store Once on the other hand allows you to do de-duplication from one location for all the nodes.

This technology has been developed from the ground up by HP Labs. It is a single software design that reduces complexity end-to-end. It runs on all our disk-to-disk backup products available in the market.

Q:Any final thoughts?

A: I would like to make a couple of key points here. Firstly, we are leading the charge in terms of breaking down the boundaries between server storage and network.  We have got devices now that are purposefully built for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

We are seeing a lot of demand. Though a lot of people are not adopting it they are showing a lot of interest in it. We have recently finished a big installation in Korea.

We are also driving very hard on industry standard hardware. We have a lot of products that are based on the x86 platform that makes management a lot more easier. This helps in bringing the costs down substantially.

Cross-posted from CTO Forum

Note: the views expressed in this post are the opinions of the Infosec Island member that posted this content. Infosec Island is not responsible for the content or messaging of this post. Infosec Island reserves the right to remove or edit the content of all material submitted by our members.

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