Storage UPDATE--Storage Provisioning--June 7, 2004
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Capacity planning for storage deployments is one of those tasks that IT personnel tend to dread. Despite the availability of all sorts of capacity planning tools, a wealth of research, and consulting services from storage management specialists, the determination of how much physical storage is necessary on the corporate network always involves a "best guess."
Nothing is inherently wrong with an educated guess when buying storage, but the nature of the beast is that you don't want to be continually reprovisioning your network's storage. As a result, you usually end up buying as much storage as your budget allows, even if you're pretty sure that you won't immediately need it.
An interesting dichotomy often appears at this point. After you've tried to anticipate the amount of storage your applications will need for the next few years and have bought all the storage hardware you can afford, some large percentage of that storage won't be used right away. In fact, it might never be used.
The nature of standard provisioning techniques is that you buy storage because you might need it, but there's no guarantee that you'll need it. As a result, you spend a lot of money on physical devices in a market in which the cost of the media continually drops. In other words, the money you spend today could easily purchase significantly more storage if you spent it later in your storage solution's useful life.
The typical approach to storage provisioning means that administrators often buy lots of unused storage that, as it turns out, they don't need. 3PAR has found a way to address that problem through its 3PAR Utility Storage product's Thin Provisioning technology. Thin Provisioning software is available only on 3PAR hardware, but the concept is so intriguing and offers such a large potential cost savings that it's been a deciding factor in winning storage contracts for the company, and I guarantee that other storage vendors will take notice.
In a nutshell, 3PAR's Thin Provisioning lets you fully provision your applications' projected storage needs without actually buying all the physical storage that you estimate those applications will eventually require. Using a three-layer virtualization technique, you provision the maximum storage requirement for an application (over its lifetime) just once. The application draws the physical storage that it needs from a common pool of physical storage that several applications share. As you need additional storage (i.e., as the available unassigned pool storage drops below a predetermined level), you buy it and add it to the common pool.
The Thin Provisioning concept makes provisioning application storage significantly easier. Overestimating required storage doesn't have a financial impact on the business because you buy only the amount of physical storage that you need right now. Departmental requests for storage requirements are often inflated because of a fear that sufficient storage won't be available; Thin Provisioning eliminates the cost associated with overestimating storage needs.
The most important fact is that, with Thin Provisioning, you buy only the storage that you actually need. With the need to justify every IT dollar spent, a solution that more efficiently uses those dollars and provides a quicker Return on Investment (ROI) demands consideration.
You can find complete information on 3PAR's Thin Provisioning technology and software at the second URL below. Hindsight might prove this provisioning approach to be the most significant advance in storage technology of the past few years.
This free web seminar covers most aspects of Microsoft(R) Windows Server(TM) 2003 Active Directory operations, focusing on new features for deployment, administration and management, forest trusts, Group Policies, and application support. The target audience includes anyone considering upgrading to Windows Server 2003 Active Directory (either from Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000) as well as first-time adopters. Register now!
At TechEd 2004, Microsoft announced the general availability of Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 Feature Pack. The feature pack enables Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices running Windows Storage Server 2003 to store Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 data and log files. The company says the integration of Exchange with Windows Storage Server helps deliver on its promise of integrated innovation. According to Microsoft, the feature pack can increase efficiency and reduce costs by providing storage consolidation of as much as 50 percent through the use of NAS devices. "More than ever, Windows Storage Server can be a great solution for consolidating and upgrading existing storage environments. There is the strong possibility that a customer will be able to reduce the number of servers, decrease TCO, and simplify their backup strategy. This can be a tremendous tool for small or medium businesses supporting up to 1,500 mailboxes," said Marcus Schmidt, senior product manager, Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003.
The feature pack has garnered wide industry support. Companies that will support the new feature pack include CommVault Systems, Computer Associates International, Dantz Development, Dell, EMC, HP, LEGATO Software, NSI Software, and VERITAS Software.
Dell and EMC announced an expansion of their successful 3-year partnership by introducing the Dell/EMC AX100 storage array. Aimed at workgroups and small organizations, the AX100 is a direct-attached storage system that's Storage Area Network (SAN)-ready. Dell will also offer special editions of LEGATO Software's NetWorker and RepliStor products to provide customers with backup, recovery, and data replication. "The new system introduced today and the inclusion of LEGATO Software as part of the successful EMC/Dell relationship will enable a wider range of customers to better manage and protect their information. Now, even the smallest of enterprises have a simple, affordable way to deploy the world's leading networked storage infrastructure with the features, functions and reliability found in data centers," said EMC president and CEO Joe Tucci.
The Dell/EMC AX100 is a 2U (3.5") rack-mountable system that supports as many as 12 Serial ATA (SATA) drives and provides from 480GB to 3TB of storage capacity. The system includes bundled management software for automated failover, snapshot capabilities, provisioning, Brocade Communications Systems' SilkWorm 8-port 3250 switch, Qlogic QLA200 host bus adapters (HBAs), and support for Linux, Windows, and Novell NetWare. The system, which Dell will manufacture, starts at $4999 for direct-attached (SAN-ready) configurations and $9999 for SAN configurations.
Dell will also offer LEGATO NetWorker Dell Edition and LEGATO RepliStor Dell Edition. LEGATO NetWorker Dell Edition is data backup and data recovery software. LEGATO RepliStor Dell Edition is an asynchronous, real-time data replication solution for Microsoft Windows data in LAN and WAN environments. LEGATO NetWorker Dell Edition is available now; LEGATO RepliStor Dell Edition will be available this summer. Both products will include 3 years of free upgrades.
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User "nuggetron" wants to use Windows Server 2003's backup program to do incremental backups every day and a full backup once a week, cycling through four tapes before overwriting a previous backup. Nuggetron doesn't understand how Windows 2003's "append data to existing set" and "replace data" functionalities work with regard to the incremental backup. For example, if it's week 5 and nuggetron is recycling tape 1, Windows 2003 will replace the existing full backup on the tape. But will the OS append the new incremental backup to the four-week-old incremental backup that's on the tape? Or does the user need to manually delete the existing set of incremental backups before doing further incremental backups? If you know the answer, please click the URL below to help a fellow administrator:
Join industry experts Kieran McCorry, Donald Livengood, and Kevin Laahs for this free event! Learn the benefits of migrating to an integrated communications environment, consolidating and simplifying implementation of technology, and accelerating worker productivity. Register now and enter to win an HP iPAQ and $500 cash!
XOsoft announced that Inflow, a storage service provider, will use XOsoft's WANSync solutions as an integral platform for Inflow's business continuity services. WANSync maintains fully functional backups of entire database and application servers on synchronized servers that can be situated remotely, with real-time replication carried out over a WAN. For more information about XOsoft and Inflow, go to the URLs below.
Network Instruments unveiled the new GigaStor Probe, a remote probe appliance designed to capture, save, and scrutinize large amounts of network traffic data for analysis. The 4U (7") rack-mount appliance includes a multiterabyte, high-performance RAID array with proprietary software that allows fast data capture to disk.
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