The Rapidly Evolving Realms of Storage Infrastructure

By Avinash Velhal, Group CIO (IMEA), Atos

The Dawn of Copy Data Management (CDM)

Managing numerous physical copies of the same data from multiple tools remains expensive, continues to be a management headache and even poses a security threat. That's why Copy Data Management (CDM), which uses a single live clone for backup, archiving, replication and other data services, is one of the storage technology trends poised for stronger adoption in 2016. CDM greatly differs from traditional storage management because it streamlines a silo process in which customers use multiple tools from multiple vendors, particularly for data protection.  Apart from CDM the other storage technologies doing the rounds are:

• Erasure coding: Erasure coding uses a mathematical formula to break data into multiple fragments, and then places each fragment in a different location within a storage array. The goal of erasure coding is to enable faster drive rebuilds. The process of copying data and scattering it across multiple drives is similar to RAID.

• Object Storage system: Object storage systems store data in a flat namespace with unique identifiers that allow data to be retrieved without a server knowing where that data is located. The flat namespace also allows a far greater amount of metadata to be stored than can be stored on a typical file system, making tasks like automation and management simpler for the administrator. These days, the technology is being used for long-term data retention, backup and files sharing.

• Next-generation storage networking: 16 Gbps quad-port FC adapters, capable of delivering 16 lanes of PCI Express 3.0, to address the demands of virtualization, analytics and transaction-heavy workloads. The main trend in Ethernet-based storage networking will be 25 Gigabit switch and adapter chips with ports that enable companies to use the same class of cables they deployed with 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE).

Implementing a Comprehensive Strategy for Storage Landscape

Business need to have a comprehensive strategy for their storage landscape. The following roadmap can be adopted to optimize their enterprise storage:

• Review of existing storage architecture against current and anticipated requirements

• Evaluation of the capacity, performance, and availability of storage resources

• Identification of opportunities for storage optimization and reclamation to reduce storage costs

• Analyzing configuration and operation of storage devices against best practices

The Storage Alternates We Can Expect To See In The Future

One of the hottest trends in the storage industry is the fast evolution of Flash. With these advances, primary storage is rapidly becoming Flash territory. We are moving towards direct-connected in-server storage and ultimately will be interfacing with ultra-fast NVMe drives via PCIe. On the other hand, all-Flash arrays provide millions of IOPS and are aimed at solving shared-data problems. Moreover, Intel and Micron just announced a new, fast alternative to Flash which will bridge the speed gap between flash and DRAM. This XPoint technology promises to revolutionize computing by providing a mechanism for persistent RAM memory on computer systems. However, in order to govern how data can be stored, who has access to it, and its integrity, all through its lifecycle, the stored data and backups have to be subject to several regulatory and legal frameworks. But every technology has its share of challenges. The first challenge is to recognize that the growth of data within enterprise systems, most organizations don’t have the capacity or the systems or the processes in place to ascertain how much they create every year which leads to a problem from a compliance and a storage perspective.

The upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), with two years to implement, is going to impact greatly on compliance strategies around storage and backup. In the current structure we have data controllers that are ultimately responsible for protecting the data under the requirements of the applicable data protection act. We have data processors, and those are the entities or people that actually process the data on behalf of the controller. In the new regulation the data processor could be liable as well. And that includes third-party storage, so whether you are a third-party storage provider, or provide solutions around storage, or you use those solutions, you need to be aware of the changes within the regulation.

The next challenge is mobile compliance – private and confidential information may be stored on these devices; sometimes in ways unknown to their owners, such as in temporary or cached files. When such a device is lost or stolen, private and confidential data can be lost. Employees who leave the company can take valuable corporate information with them unless businesses control which data is allowed on personal devices and have the means to enforce its policies. Employees installing apps on their device may not give much thought to end-user agreements. Other security risks include opening your infrastructure to mobile devices without adequate monitoring, the potential for malware to enter your network via mobile devices, plus security and compliance challenges from potential inability to enforce compliance regulations if you lack mobile device management (MDM) or data loss prevention (DLP) systems. 

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