In face of rapid data growth, organizations look to consolidate storage


Thirty percent of North American organizations are experiencing annual data growth of 25 percent or higher, meaning that the information they have under management will double every two to three years, according to InformationWeek’s recently released “2013 State of Storage” survey. To combat the growing amount of data in their systems, many organizations are adopting tiered enterprise storage models and leveraging technologies such as server virtualization, data reduction and cloud hosting.


Big data initiatives are behind much of the current growth, with 47 percent of organizations reporting that the enterprise data warehouse is the primary driver of Tier 1 storage use. Email, rich media and shared documents are also significant sources of data growth, counting as the primary source of increased Tier 1 data in 21 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent of organizations respectively. In total, 42 percent of respondents reported having 100 TB or more in active management, which is an increase from 32 percent in 2012. Additionally, 11 percent reported now managing more than 1,000 TB.


A poorly defined retention policy is one major source of data sprawl, according to the report. Across all data types, more than half of respondents reported storing data for five years or longer, often indefinitely or with no policy at all. Report author Kurt Marko noted that this trend is particularly worrisome in the case of rich media, which 62 percent of organizations hold onto for more than five years, as well as the case of CAD and GIS data, which 82 percent of organizations keep for this duration, as these are some of the largest data types within almost any enterprise.


“Maybe we need a new reality series, ‘Hoarders: Data Compulsion,'” Marko quipped.


Managing the data

To handle the large amount of information being created, organizations are looking to new technologies such as virtualization, solid state drives and cloud storage to improve performance. Thirty-nine percent of decision makers reported employing some form of a cloud computing solution, and an additional 32 percent said they were considering doing so. Marko noted that the cloud is now seen as a “legitimate storage tier,” and organizations are using it especially for application-specific storage, backup and recovery.


At the same time, tape libraries have seen somewhat of a renaissance as organizations have sought to free up space in Tier 1 and 2 storage arrays while increasing archiving for compliance purposes. Forty-five percent of respondents reported using disk-to-disk-to-tape backup schemes, and an additional 30 percent said they maintained limited production deployments.


In general, storage consolidation and management approaches have proven popular, with 27 percent of organizations reporting that they have consolidated storage into fewer centrally managed systems. Looking forward, Marko advised companies to evaluate their storage plans and providers to determine if their Tier 1 and 2 vendors are meeting their needs. He also suggested businesses assess if there are areas in which data can be moved to less expensive formats such as tape libraries or remote cloud archives.


Such solutions can help organizations do more with data at a lower cost, and working with IT consulting services to develop a storage management plan can be a worthwhile investment. For instance, by partnering with FlexITy, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) moved to a tiered storage plan, increasing capacity by 300 percent and reducing yearly expenditures from $3.3 million to $1.7 million. As the flood of data continues unabated, organizations may want to consider adopting similar solutions.