Storage nightmare if data is not handled with care

Information has to be managed - not just stored, says analyst

Very few organisations manage information content well, says Gartner vice president Phil Sargeant. Generally, it is still an ad hoc activity, and one that is creating a “storage nightmare of the future”.

Sargeant says that in the enterprise space automated tools — to specify the nature of data and how it should be classified in storage — are still a long way off. True Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) will not happen for at least four more years, he says.

Speaking at the recent Storage Networking World conference, held recently in Sydney, Sargeant said organisations in the Asia-Pacific region don’t want to know about content.

He says the crux of the issue is that organisations need to focus on how information is managed — not just stored.

“Understanding content is vitally important to storing information economically and creating business value,” he says.

“Many end-users might already have three to five terabytes of storage space or more, with growth rates of 20-50%. They need to address that growth.

“Over time, archiving and content management will mesh.”

Sargeant says he has yet to see an organisation implement what ILM promises to deliver.

“I do see very good point solutions but there is certainly a long way to go. ILM is about moving through tiers of storage and putting information where it makes the most manual sense — data classification tools,” he says.

“Data classification tools have a long way to go as a true ILM is three to four years away.”

Ray Dunn, vice chairman of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) board of directors, believes organisations have nearly two decades to transform their businesses to “info-centric” enterprises.

Dunn says the best way to achieve this is through the adoption or implementation of a service oriented architecture and open standards.

“So, how do we get to this info-centric enterprise? SNIA believes by looking at creating [standards-based] service architectures across multiple vendors,” says Dunn.

“SNIA has created a specification for a standard called SMI-S [Storage Management Initiative-Specification], which has the ability for all disk arrays to be able to report a single set of protocols and information. So, if you have a disk array or similar from EMC or Hewlett-Packard, by using the SMI-S standard [you can make] management reports look the same way.”

Future-proofing storage systems, and the data retained, will also be critical to storage in the future, according to Dunn.

“We have to come up with systems that enable migration to new storage systems or, by using the standards available, to vendors, [who can] build devices in such a way that the migration of technology allows for an info-centric architecture to exist,” he says.

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More about EMC CorporationGartnerHewlett-Packard AustraliaSNIAStorage Networking Industry Association

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