Storage Outlook: Cloudy, No Swimming - InformationWeek

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6/15/2010
02:56 PM
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey
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Storage Outlook: Cloudy, No Swimming

Earlier this month I sat down with Deepak Mohan, senior VP of Symantec's Information Management Group, and Anil Chakravarthy, senior VP of Symantec's Storage and Availability Management Group, to discuss the growth of digital information and topics that InformationWeek Analytics will be covering in the second half of the year.

Earlier this month I sat down with Deepak Mohan, senior VP of Symantec's Information Management Group, and Anil Chakravarthy, senior VP of Symantec's Storage and Availability Management Group, to discuss the growth of digital information and topics that InformationWeek Analytics will be covering in the second half of the year.Some headlines: Mohan estimates that up to 70% of the data enterprises store is duplicative. "We are saving a lot of junk," he said. "And the important items we often keep, we keep for far too long because we don't know how to organize and separate it. And so we keep everything. Forever." (Disk may be cheap, but lawyers aren't.)

Both expect desktop virtualization will make things worse as storage moves from end user devices to the data center and we start saving multiple copies of desktop images. (Sure, IT plans to strictly limit the number of virtual desktops available, but be honest. Do you really believe that's going to happen?)

SAN buildouts are slowing as CIOs focus on optimizing what they already own, and both see automated tiering and deduplication becoming features with storage systems as opposed to standalone appliances. Clustering for DR is still mostly active/passive, though they're seeing more customers pilot load balancing and handling of demand spikes on DR systems, something virtualization can help with, as we've discussed. And, storage optimization will increasingly let IT escape vendor lock-in via multipathing and a single interface that will make the underlying hardware transparent to apps. (Can we get an amen to that.)

Nothing earth shattering perhaps, but all moves in the right direction. That's important, because what we're doing now isn't working.

"In a survey of Symantec NetBackup customers, for example, one organization had more than 300,000 tapes onsite and 500,000 tapes offsite," said Mohan. "Another demolished the employee swimming pool to use the space to store more tapes."

That couldn't have helped the CIO's popularity.

Chakravarthy estimates that 85% of data is unstructured, another thorn in IT's side, and outlined a set of four principles to help rein in growth. 1. Back up and protect everything on one platform. "Organizations don't manage information as a whole - they manage applications," said Mohan. "With the result that they end up performing the same tasks many times over, duplicating data and making it harder to find."

2. Dedupe close to the source. It helps that the capability is being built in.

3. Delete. Fulfill your need for retention/recovery, and then purge. But do it according to a policy, and automate it. "Automated deletion according to a corporate information management policy is legally defensible, so long as it does not directly contradict a specific retention requirement," said Mohan. "Ad-hoc deletion by individual users, on the other hand, can be extremely hard to defend because it is arbitrary. The court always wonders why some information has been deleted, and some not, and the reasons for those choices."

4. Get a plan to do e-discovery efficiently. See: Lawyers aren't cheap.

As for the cloud, what's most important is that we not simply replicate sprawling, unmanaged data stores in someone else's facility. All that will do is cost us even more in the long run. Smart companies that are looking at cloud storage, private OR public, will use the change of model as an inflection point to design tiering and retention policies, embrace automation, dedupe, and hopefully break the cycle of runaway growth. Classification is critical. To help with that, we're planning to cover storage and file virtualization, issue a guide to developing policies for cloud usage, and in late fall launch our annual State of Storage survey. Let me know what factors are driving your storage pain so no more swimming pools need to die.

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