WHAT IS DATA STORAGE MANAGEMENT?

Data Storage Management – A Business Necessity

In recent times, data has seen immense and unprecedented growth. There has not been as much scarcity of effective data storage means as there is now. With the growing cyber-attacks and hardware malfunctioning, the choice of relevant and long term data storage devices has become harder.

Not only do companies need extensive data storage management mechanisms but individuals also need to enact data storage management techniques. Now the question arises that why the choice of data storage media means a lot and why it demands utter efficiency, especially in the case when storage mediums are now free of any optical discs and moving parts?

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    There are multiple reasons for this. First of all, one needs to choose the storage device or medium while keeping in view the long term usability and reliability. For example, if someone would have been performing data storage management on the floppy disks, as primary storage, then we all know very well that such storage management mediums are not of any use in today’s times. Neither can anyone find floppy disks slots on the laptops, not even in desktop computers, nor do they are compact enough to store more data in one disk drive.

    Secondly, future storage capacities should also be kept in mind while choosing the data storage devices and management mechanisms. It is so because, in the business environment, it is neither feasible nor wiser to keep on changing and upgrading storage means.

    In a business environment, different devices gather different sort of digital data and with the passage of time and more employment of IoT, ability and expectations of storage devices keeps on increasing.

    Why Data Storage is Important?

    It is a very legitimate question when it comes to ascertaining the need and importance of data storage management in business infrastructure. To be on the realistic side, data plays a vital role in letting companies make effective business decisions and devise new ways to engage with their clients. This also allows them to develop and market new services and products by keeping in view customer’s preferences.

    This data cannot be accessed vaguely instead there is a requirement to store data in a way so that it can be managed and accessed in a convenient way. Furthermore, there is also a requirement to protect this storage from any sort of cyber-attack. For this, data redundancies should be put forward to make sure that neither should data be lost nor should it be damaged and inaccessible due to any network or system shutdown.

    In this lieu, it is important that the company’s data storage management initiatives should incorporate a number of data storage devices, including secondary storage and tertiary storage. Furthermore, these should be aligned with the company’s computer network.

    Data Storage Methods

    Before getting into the details of data storage management, it is important to first ascertain the methods that can be used as a medium of data storage. Following are some of the prevalent and feasible ways to store data:

    On-site Data Storage

    It is a traditional yet original data storage method. On-site data storage means may include internal hard drives, external drives, flash drives or a combination of them. Such data storage mediums are completely owned and managed by the organization and are located on their premises. Although larger companies do locate these servers in private data centers, but generally, it has been seen that for the on-site data storage, companies manage a handful of machines in their dedicated on-site data center(s).

    In such storage establishment, the owner takes the full responsibility of building and overseeing the data services infrastructure. This enables the organization to have full control over their network as well as data. But it must be noted that the cost for managing such on-site data storage infrastructure is a lot. For example, such on-site data storage requires physical space, energy resources, operations and maintenance costs, and other allied expenses.

    For most of the companies, on-site storage establishments are not worthy because they can avoid this cost by hiring any off-site storage vendor.

    Colocation

    Generally, every company wants to relieve the hassle of owning, controlling and managing the on-site storage equipment. Furthermore, ongoing power and cooling needs are also very difficult to be catered on a regular basis.

    To relive such hassles, companies usually opt for collocation. It gives them the benefit of the data center’s versatility along with complete control over their data. Another benefit of collocated data storage is the easy incorporation of new features in the network along with the more improved security. Furthermore, robust control and compliance protocols provide streamline protection, which otherwise would have been quite difficult for the businesses to implement in their in-house storage infrastructure.

    Cloud Storage

    Cloud storage is the most popular and flexible storage medium. This storage option is best suited for both small and medium-sized businesses. It makes sense for them because small and medium-size businesses do not have enough capital to invest in the hardware of the storage medium. By opting for cloud storage, they neither have to invest in hardware nor need to worry about managing the storage capacity of their storage devices.

    Cloud storage gives the users an excellent benefit of scalability where if users feel that they need to upgrade their storage capabilities, then they can do so very easily. Being on the remote location and connected through the internet, the users will always be in close access to their data.

    In order to facilitate users in the best possible way, there are three types of cloud storage. The public cloud allows the users to share the resources of the cloud service provider and they will just need to pay the subscription charges against their allocated cloud storage. Since all public cloud subscribers will be sharing the same resources, hence critics find it to be rather unsafe. It is so because security breach is quite easy and once someone breaches it, data of all subscribers will be at risk.

    To compensate for this menace, there is an existence of private cloud networks. Private cloud networks are dedicated ones where one subscriber, which in this case will be an organization, will have its personalized cloud network. Owing to their excellent security protocols, private cloud networks are an ideal choice for companies having high-security preferences and involvement in sensitive information.

    Apart from above the two types, there is a blend of these two types of cloud storage known as hybrid cloud storage. The hybrid cloud embeds the features and specifications of both private and public cloud storage. This type of cloud storage is beneficial for those users who want to enjoy the features of both types of cloud storage. This is also a great way to get rid of the individual shortcomings of both private and public cloud storage.

    Prerequisites for the Efficient Data Storage Management

    In order to formulate an efficient data storage management strategy, it is essential to get into some brainstorming sessions. This brainstorming session should account for the basic questions such as what are the ultimate goals and what are the available resources to reach that goal? It should also identify the shortcomings between capabilities and expectations. Furthermore, such brainstorming sessions should also be able to give solutions to bridge the identified shortcomings.

    Following are the essential prerequisites to formulate and implement efficient data storage management:

    Data Knowledge

    Data knowledge is the most basic thing to ascertain. It is said that not every data is created equal and, in this lieu, determining the right value of data is very much important. Few of the questions which may help IT administrators to formulate a data storage management policy include:

    • How fast does data should be accessed?
    • How long should data be retained?
    • How secure should data be?
    • How frequently does data need to be backed up?
    • What sort of regulatory requirements needs to be followed?

    Accommodating Unstructured Data

    IT administrators must think about the frequency by which they want to combine the multi-structured data from the organization’s transactional systems. Should such accommodation include semi-structured or unstructured data from the organization’s email servers, networks or any other directory?

    Critics suggest that whatsoever should one decide, an administrator must combine all of the desired data types in a way that data modeling effort should not be done for months or even for years.

    Regulatory Requirements

    It is very important to ascertain if regulatory requirements need to be strictly compliant with or not. For example, regulatory requirements are quite strict for publicly trading companies or companies with a high level of regulations such as financial or healthcare companies. Whereas for other sorts of companies, they are rather lenient.

    Data Retention

    Defining the right data retention policy is vital for internal governance as well as for the legal compliance of the company. An organization should identify which data should be retained for years and which one for the weeks.

    This thing also lets organizations prioritize their data and thus can enable a data storage management system to clearly retain the data as per their priority.

    Relevant Storage Solution

    The data storage management plan should account for diverse storage options. For example, the fastest storage devices, such as SSD, should be used for the data which is expected to be used actively. Similarly, less expensive storage options, such as cloud, should be used for backup or archival activity.

    Data Security

    In this time of vigorous data vulnerabilities, data security should be made the first priority. This need becomes more rigorous when it comes to managing important business data. IT administrators should plan data to be secured both physically and virtually. Furthermore, data should also be encrypted so that no one can intermediately read and write the data.

    Critics suggest that in addition to normal data, backup data should also be encrypted. Moreover, encrypted data should be backed up on the tape drives and be stored on some secure location. Such emergency and disaster recovery plans are necessary to let enterprises recover their data in case of any calamity.

    No need to Store Redundant Data

    It has been seen that most of the companies do not plan their storages with respect to redundant copies of data. With more cheap storage devices, companies are now keen to store redundant copies of their data.

    But critics argue that such redundant copies are rather unnecessary because not every data deserves to be made redundant. It will do nothing except consuming the unnecessary storage space. It makes sense too because the space that these redundant copies be consuming, could effectively have been allocated to more useful resources.

    So in this lieu, it can very well be deduced that effective data storage management should not incorporate the plan of storing redundant copies of the data. Even if such redundant copies are necessary, then prior to initiating the data storage, data should be analyzed and then the most relevant one should be picked up.

    Disaster Recovery

    Disaster recovery should be the most essential and foremost characteristic of any data storage management plan. It is so because of what use would data storage be if it cannot prove worthy in the hour of need? Keeping every need aside, any digital or natural disaster is the only time when recovery modes are sought the most.

    In short, none of the backup strategies would be beneficial if they cannot recover the data that they are supposed to recover. Whatever disaster recovery plan users devise, it should vigorously be tested. Experts say that such tests should not be done over the years. Instead, to make sure that recovery plans remain efficient, they should be tested at least once a month and ideally once a week.

    For disaster recovery to be effective, an organization must apply a 3-2-1 rule in their data protection strategies. This means that for the most important and vulnerable data, three copies should be prepared. Out of these three copies, two copies must be made in two different backup modes and one of them should be parked over the offsite location.