What is Storage? I know if I were to ask my wife, it would immediately become a discussion about insufficient closet space, too much clutter, and eventually it would turn personal (“Why do you still have those old hiking boots when you haven’t even seen a trail in 8 years?!”) But as I ponder that, I think those basic concepts apply to data storage. That is: (1) We have stuff. (2) We will inevitably get more stuff. (3) We need a safe place to put all that stuff. (4) We are not completely sure if we will need that stuff in the future, so better keep it.

What is data storage?

data storage 101 - a class for understanding new storage technologiesUnlike physical “stuff”, data storage is relatively simple. In fact, a few key strokes… whether intentional or accidental… can make it disappear. It is probably that disappearing act that led to modern data storage, where the data is no longer owned by individual computers, but rather is a network resource maintained by an IT staff.

In a modern storage area network (SAN), clients, data, and applications are separated to maximize availability and performance by off-loading storage functions. At the backend of the SAN is the storage arrays, which, to put it crudely, are basically boxes full of hard drives. These storage arrays are interconnected to host servers, which “see” them as local storage. Groups of individual PCs connect to these host servers through switches, creating a local area network (LAN) that provides access to the various applications the clients needs… eMail, databases, spreadsheets, word processors, etc.

How does data storage work?

Earlier I described storage arrays as “boxes full of hard drives” just to put a picture in your head. But storage arrays – at least good ones -- have a pretty momentous task. This is because data always has to be served FAST to keep all of those aforementioned applications running smoothly so employees can get their work done. To be effective, this requires a high degree of organization, not unlike the closet in your home. You want the stuff you use every day right in front, while those old hiking boots can go waaaaay in back. (That’s called tiering). Do we need 3 golf umbrellas? No… keep the one without holes and trash the others. (That’s called deduplication.) And we’d have a lot more space in our closet if we deflated those beach balls. (That’s called compression.)

A good storage array manages all of this clutter, continuously, so whenever you open that closet door, what you need can be quickly found. Some storage arrays use only (spinning) hard disk drives (HDDs), while others use flash storage (SSDs). Some arrays, called hybrids, combine both types of drives in the same box. HDDs offer more capacity per drive at a cheaper cost per terabyte, while SSDs offer faster performance but at a premium price. Given this, you can begin to see the advantages of a hybrid system.

Do you really need a storage system?

The decision to invest in a professional storage system really depends on how well you want to sleep at night. That’s because a good storage system also provides security. Security in this case means that you can get your data back in the event of some malicious cyber event, which means you can get your employees back to work with minimal loss of productivity.

If you make that decision to shop around for storage, be aware to consider the new technologies in the market and not go blindly ahead with only the brand names you have always heard about. The most recent generation of computer processors has enabled a lot of potential for innovation to the industry, but few companies seem to be taking advantage of it.

Core Evolution Group (CEG) is one company that is riding the crest of the “storage innovation wave”, by putting performance at the forefront while optimizing capacity and security. CEG’s storage solutions boast the ability to restore data from any point in time – right to the second – and fully restore that data within minutes. Make sure to take advantage of CEG’s free consultation services as part of any storage solution research you do. 

To learn more about how a modern storage solution can protect your business from the risks of ransomware and other operational challenges, please download the eBook titled "The Essentials when Upgrading a Storage Solution.

 

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