Stop data storage from putting a spanner in IT integration

Santander's acquisition of Alliance & Leicester, the nationalisation of Northern Rock - some of our major financial institutions are being merged, acquired or nationalised at a rate none of us would have predicted…

Santander's acquisition of Alliance & Leicester, the nationalisation of Northern Rock - some of our major financial institutions are being merged, acquired or nationalised at a rate none of us would have predicted, writes Tony Reid, UK services director at Hitachi Data Systems.

Takeovers can be tough even at the best of times but today, they need to be completed swiftly to avoid further losses. This means that everything, particularly the integration of infrastructure and resources, is being completed at break-neck speed.

Solutions for the data storage headache

Of all the elements that need to be tied together, data storage is undoubtedly one of the most challenging. The merging of two storage environments is a long, intricate process, complicated by numerous incompatibilities such as the variety of vendor technologies involved, a lack of industry standards, as well as the sheer volume of data that most companies possess.

These issues can complicate the CIO's job of integrating different IT systems. Not only does the CIO have to ensure the systems work efficiently with one another, this has to be achieved without affecting customer experience or employee productivity. However, help is at hand in the form of three technologies - de-duplication, virtualisation and tiered storage.

De-duplication eases the CIO's IT integration challenge by addressing the issue of redundant and repeated data which, in some cases, can bloat the total storage volume by more than 10 times. De-duplication tackles the 'storage bloat' by stripping out repeated data, thus substantially reducing the amount of data in the IT system as well as information that needs to be backed up. Besides repeated data, many organisations store a surprisingly large amount of unnecessary information. In fact on average, 40 per cent[1] of an organisation's information has not been accessed in the last four years. Therefore, de-duplication technology also ensures that redundant data is removed, resulting in the remaining data being much easier to move and manipulate.

Once unnecessary data is stripped out of the system, storage virtualisation can speed up the integration process by enabling the consolidation of disparate storage pools. It is not unusual for companies to utilise only 20 to 30 per cent of their overall storage capacity. So, there is clearly huge scope for efficiencies and cost savings if this capacity is better utilised.

While server virtualisation is very popular today, adoption rates for its storage equivalent are still fairly low. However, as the economic downturn is driving demand for solutions that enable organisations to optimise their current resources, there is certainly a strong case for storage virtualisation this year.

After the different storage systems are brought together in a single, virtual pool, the next step involves tiering the data. Tiered storage provides an architecture where data is ranked according to functionality and importance, with capacity being allocated accordingly. For instance, mission critical information will be placed on high-performance, high-availability systems while low-cost, limited access storage resource is used to store archived data. This means that all storage resources are used as effectively as possible.

A simple resolution

In short, data storage need not be a pain for CIOs when integrating IT infrastructures following a merger or acquisition. Bringing in the appropriate technologies such as de-duplication, virtualisation and tiered storage will ensure that data storage integration is seamless.

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