Professional data storage solutions at medium-sized and large companies

Have you ever experienced that your data storage system has slowed down or response times have lengthened?

The data storage capacity requirements of today’s IT systems have risen sharply (e.g. TB-sized file and mail servers, TB-sized transaction systems and data warehousing systems with several tens of terabytes). Even just a few years ago, the capacities required by major corporate systems could not be satisfied with internal, dedicated, “shared” data storage solutions of servers, only with external disk systems.

This is why today almost every medium-sized and large company has a centralised data storage system. These systems are able to meet all data storage requirements, and sometimes with a very long life-cycle (>5 years).
That said, we also have to note that the development of disk drives means that one single drive is able to handle an extremely large capacity (e.g. even 3TB on a 3.5″ 7200rpm cost-effective drive, or 600-900GB on a high-performance 10-15k rpm drive). Nowadays, capacity is almost “no longer an issue”: several tens of TB or even several hundreds of TB capacity can be supplied relatively easily with a few disk drives or 3-4 disk trays (loaded with drives). Capacity requirements can be satisfied not just with advanced and intelligent central storage systems, but also with the internal disk capacities of servers.

Have applications slowed down at your company too?

Have applications slowed down at your company too?

Today, alongside and instead of capacity, we also have to take other factors into consideration when thinking about data storage. You surely know what it’s like, or at least you’ve heard about it at other firms, when applications that previously worked smoothly all of a sudden slow down and response times get longer; this is generally not caused by server issues but by bottlenecks and slowdowns in the data storage itself.
Our experience gained at many leading Hungarian companies demonstrates that the critical factor of data storage today is no longer capacity, but rather performance and load.
The professionals working at Areus Zrt. have come across many tasks and challenges related to data storage performance and load in the course of their data storage projects in the last decade. In such situations our specialists provide support to clients in resolving problems and tasks quickly and cost-effectively by means of performance and load analyses, performance-oriented planning and scaling, as well optimising and restructuring data storage systems.


Just a case of boosting performance? Let’s take a closer look!

The most obvious way of raising performance is installing new(er) generation data storage equipment. This gives rise to many other questions above and beyond performance aspects:

  • The new system must at least provide the same performance as the previous data storage solution, but generally we are talking about a noticeably better performance.
  • It must be easy to connect current and future servers to the centralised data storage system.
  • The new system must support new data storage and connection technologies.
  • Some form of intelligent data replication function is almost a compulsory requirement now of software for new data storage systems: it has to support the making of local and remote copies, and must work together with data storage systems previously purchased.
  • Data storage systems – as a critical, central resource – must support business continuity in many ways and from many angles:
    • It must be possible to update software in use, while all components must be completely redundant and be suitable for hot-swapping.
    • The dynamic online increase and transparent migration of volumes help to ensure smooth capacity management.
  • Another increasingly important requirement of today’s modern data storage systems is low power consumption.
  • It is more and more important for data storage to be easy to manage and for data storage monitoring to be integrated into a wider framework management system or other (e.g. server virtualisation) monitoring solution.

Need to attach new servers to a data storage system?

This may seem a simple task at first glance: suppliers of common operating systems or network adapters (FC HBA) today offer some form of easily manageable software tool (using wizards for example) with their more advanced versions to support configuration tasks.

This means that you don’t have to be a professional to complete the basic settings quickly, especially if we are talking about a uniform environment (e.g. the servers, FC HBA adapters, data storage network tools, disk data storage systems and monitoring software all come from the same manufacturer).

But let’s stop for a minute and take a look at why this is not always necessarily the best option!

Why is it risky to configure servers without the required know-how?

Why is it risky to configure servers without the required know-how?

First of all, we should note that rarely does the IT infrastructure of a company or organisation have all the infrastructure elements outlined above from the same manufacturer. It is much more common for the computer centres of our medium-sized and large clients to be mixed, at least to a certain extent, and contain various types, sorts and generations of equipment from different manufacturers.

This means that use of the auxiliary configuration programmes mentioned above (such as wizards) for modern equipment of the same generation and from the same manufacturer is limited!


TOP 5 sources of risk when configuring a data storage system

If the configuration of a relatively diverse infrastructure is entrusted to someone without the required know-how, this can lead to one or more of the following 5 common problems:

  1. It is possible that the server functions well and sees the data area, but its performance falls well short of its optimal level on account of poor parameters
  2. It is possible that the right software could ensure redundant access of the data storage system, but the faulty settings mean that if there is a problem with the hardware the redundant connection will not work properly and we won’t be able to access our data.
  3. In many cases the data storage manufacturer only deals with the problems between the data storage and the server after making sure that the configuration of the server attached to the storage is in line with the recommendations given by the manufacturer. If this is not the case, the manufacturer can easily ignore the problem as the configuration is not supported.
  4. An incorrectly configured server in the data storage system can disrupt and negatively influence the workings of other devices attached to the storage system.
  5. A common problem in the case of large companies with fairly mixed infrastructure is finger-pointing: if a problem crops up affecting products from more than one manufacturer then these manufacturers try to deflect and shift the responsibility onto one another. If the configuration tasks are not carried out by an expert who is highly proficient in all of the technologies in question, the problems derived from this unprofessional configuration can prove to be a breeding ground for subsequent “finger-pointing” between the manufacturers.

Moving data between data storage systems – what’s the best way to do it?

One common request is for data to be moved from an existing data storage system marked for replacement to a new data storage system. This is what we call data migration.

Data transfer: How do the pros do it?

Data transfer: How do the pros do it?

Data migration projects entail the following requirements:

  • The migration cannot create an excessive load on the current data storage system that is still live.
  • The migration process must be completed with the servers being offline for as little time as possible (preferably with virtually no interruption at all). The time the servers are down and the time to start them up again because of the migration needs to be reduced to a minimum.
  • The migration method and technology must be quick so that the migration process can be completed swiftly. This minimises the operating difficulties and operational risks of having the old and the new data storage system working in parallel, as well as the amount of downtime.

The professionals at Areus Zrt. have successfully executed many data migration projects for large banks, insurance companies, industrial and public-sector clients. During these projects the data transfer was completed as swiftly as possible and so the downtime for the service was reduced to a minimum.

Role of Areus Zrt. on the market for data storage technologies

The functions of data storage systems are growing constantly and significantly. It is difficult to keep abreast of these changes. As referred to above, a simple piece of terminology like “data storage” comprises a whole host of factors and aspects.

It would naturally be reassuring for every company and organisation if they had the specialised expertise to review all the many facets of data storage and recognise the potential issues, as well maintain a constant monitoring framework that focuses on data storage.
Experience shows, however, that apart from the largest business and organisations there tends to be no in-house specialist for data storage, especially no architects or operating teams. Constantly training your own internal personnel along with expensive and time-consuming courses and exams are generally incompatible with common operating practice, where the tasks of data storage that can be relatively well-defined are carried out together and in combination with other operating tasks (e.g. server administration, DBA, O/S administration).

Areus Zrt. can be your specialist and adviser so you don’t have to worry about data storage!

We help you find the best data storage solution and avoid the common pitfalls, which means your servers and data storage systems are in the best hands.

  • We help you solve your data storage problems!

    We help you solve your data storage problems!

    Our team of professionals has more than 10 years of experience with data storage systems

  • We are key system integrator partners of the largest data storage manufacturers (EMC, IBM, HP, Netapp)
  • Our personnel undergo regular training and have the latest qualifications; they also participate in professional conferences
  • Our clients include the largest Hungarian banks, insurance companies, public-sector bodies, industry and services companies
  • We share experience and knowledge with our clients that we gained in setting up data storage infrastructures for significant organisations in Hungary, and which we believe is vital to operate data storage systems securely and efficiently.

Free 2-hour consultation on data storage for medium-sized and large companies!

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