Storage: New Tools Provide More Flexibility

Many companies have automated the process of backing up and recovering data, but fewer are using software to automate storage provisioning or data-life-cycle management.
Not long ago, storage was the least- flexible and -manageable IT resource. Storage was directly attached to a computer and could serve applications only on that server.

Things have changed a lot in the past two years. The introduction of network-attached storage, storage networks, storage appliances, and storage-management software has begun to turn storage into an easy-to-manage IT resource.

St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto recently moved from direct-attached storage to a storage network. In the past, "an operator typically took a full day to find the right tape, read the right data off the tape, and copy it to the right place, so we gave users a window of 48 hours," IT architect Ken Westerback says. "Now it's a matter of minutes."

Westerback is eyeing a combination of SAN-management products from IBM's Tivoli unit. In about a year, he wants data backup to move across the SAN instead of the company's LAN. "We could free up the network and improve the security because the SAN is less likely to be snooped," he says.

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange is developing systems to process 120,000 quotes per second by year's end. It also must save all information related to a trade for seven years. The exchange turned to Veritas Software Corp.'s storage-management and -automation products for help. "It makes us much more nimble in reallocating capacity in response to ad hoc reports," says Tony Catone, director of systems architecture. "We can reallocate storage in 15 minutes."

Three important storage areas cry out for automation: backup and recovery, provisioning, and data-life-cycle management. Many companies have automated the process of backing up and recovering data; not many IT managers still take home data tapes each night. But fewer companies have automated storage provisioning or data-life-cycle management.

"We want to go with a flow of storage tiers," says Scott Roemmele, the SAN administrator at Quicken Loans Inc., an online mortgage-lending company. "As data is accessed less and less, we'll move it to other, lower-cost media."

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