Essential Guide

Understanding RAID configurations

Data lies at the heart of the organisation, and data protection takes many forms -- backup, archiving and the subject of this SearchStorage.co.UK Essential Guide to understanding RAID configurations.

The Redundant Array of Independent Disks was possibly the first-ever form of storage virtualisation. By taking many disks and aggregating them to present as virtual volumes, storage arrays were able to boost I/O performance and increase levels of data protection against drive failure.

In fact, by means of striping, mirroring and parity (all explained in this Essential Guide), the varying levels of RAID are able to multiply by many times the resilience and performance of a collection of single hard drives, adding up to much more than a sum of the parts.

Located at the heart of all data storage—the drive array—RAID is the first line of defence against mechanical disk failure, and for this reason knowledge of RAID is a fundamental for all storage professionals.

At the same time the many RAID levels provide numerous possible permutations of performance, data protection and cost, and the challenge for storage professionals is to know which is best-suited to their environment.

The various RAID levels offer multiple choices when configuring storage arrays: striping data across many drives, dividing files by block or even at byte level; mirroring sets of drives; mirroring striped sets; striping mirrored sets; and using parity data—on a dedicated disk or disks or striped across many— to enable drive rebuilds in case of a disk failure.

The profusion of possible combinations of RAID characteristics, which all have different impacts on performance, resilience and cost, plus the fundamental importance of RAID to storage array management, is the reason we’ve compiled this Essential Guide for SearchStorage.co.UK readers. Our RAID content is perennially popular. Here you can learn the fundamentals of storage’s most basic form of data protection in one handy guide.

Here’s a look inside this guide:

  • RAID implementation choices: Storage professionals face a lot of choices when implementing RAID in their environment. Here’s an in-depth look at the differences between software RAID and hardware RAID, how RAID levels compare in terms of price and performance, and the fundamental differences between RAID 6 and RAID 10.
  • Alternatives to RAID: RAID has been around for a long time and has been the standard for disk-based data protection for more than 20 years. Today, there are several alternatives to RAID that many companies are looking at. Find out what the shortcomings of RAID are in the 21st century and how these problems have sparked new RAID innovations and transformations. Also, learn about some new alternatives to RAID such as self-healing storage and Data Robotics’ BeyondRAID and how these technologies are shaping the evolution of RAID technology.
  • Understanding RAID levels: RAID 0 through RAID 6: Which RAID level is the right fit for your organisation? There are several levels of RAID, from RAID 0 to RAID 6. Compare the pros and cons of each RAID level, how they perform and the level of data protection to determine which is the best match for your company.

Click here to download our guide on understanding RAID configurations.

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This was first published in March 2011

 

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