Data Storage – The Monster in the Enterprise

From the earliest days of the PC to today, data storage has always been a problem for most firms.  Most CIOs decide to just buy bigger hard drives to deal with the huge volumes of data. This is not necessarily the right answer. Data storage in the enterprise should be analyzed from all angles, not just to find answers in hardware, software and technology, but also to find a solution in the management of data.

I must admit I too have struggled with data storage. It’s continued growth, archiving, management and support of gigabytes and gigabytes of data became a problem that needed to be addressed and a long-term solution developed.

I approached data storage requirements by first developing a corporate storage policy. Analyze your environment to determine what you want and what you need. Establish what type of information you have and what the value of that information is for your business. Then determine what information is most critical to the business because that will determine storage and retrieval requirements.

Establish three levels:

  1. Mission-critical data that is used regularly and on a daily basis. This tier requires fast backup and recovery times and the most expensive hardware, such as SATA or SCSI disk arrays.
  2. Data that doesn’t need to be accessed that often and is not mission-critical. This data, however, still needs to be stored on disk, such as slower, less expensive ATA disk arrays.
  3. Data that needs to be archived, and most likely only be retrieved in cases of emergencies.

Establishing levels ties in with your information lifecycle management (ILM) process. , ILM allows you to analyze your data, to determine how critical it is and then allocate it to either fast and more expensive SATA disk, slower, less expensive ATA disk, or to magnetic tape.

Legislation and corporate governance issues will affect your data storage requirements. In some companies it will determine storage needs requirements. Legislation such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX), Basel II, the King report, Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), as well as legislation, such as the ECT and Companies Acts. Not complying with these regulations can be a problem for you and your company. These regulations specify what data must be retained, whether it can be changed, and for how long it must be retained.

There are plenty of articles and white papers on the net about solutions. For those of you struggling with your data storage needs it might be time to do some research and figure out a solution that will work for you both in the near-term and long-term.

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