Thin provisioning, clusters, e-mail, and open-source backup

By now, the benefits of thin provisioning are clear- reducing physical storage requirements, cost savings, better capacity utilization, and even improved application performance. As such, implementing thin provisioning would appear to be a no-brainer. But as Silverton Consulting’s Ray Lucchesi points out in “Thin provisioning goes mainstream,” p. 26, the technology is not without some “gotchas.” Ray’s article provides some advice on how to avoid the potential drawbacks to thin provisioning and looks at the different implementations that both start-ups and large vendors are offering.

Clustered storage is clearly the way to go if you’re scaling rapidly, and nowhere is this more apparent than in file-based environments, such as NAS. According to end-user research conducted by TheInfoPro, NAS capacity is growing at an average of 41% per year at Fortune 1000 firms. (That compares to 37% for Fibre Channel SANs and 39% for IP SANs.)

As the Taneja Group’s Steve Norall points out in “Clustered file storage is enterprise-ready,” p. 28, this technology has become a viable alternative to traditional monolithic approaches to NAS. Steve explores the benefits of clustered file storage, explains the key trends behind the shift to these architectures, and provides recommendations for users that are considering making the shift.

(Left to Right) Christine Taylor, Taneja Group; Dave Vellante, Wikibon.org; Ray Lucchesi, Silverton Consulting; Steve Norall, Taneja Group;
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As wikibon.org’s Dave Vellante and Pfizer’s Michael McCreary point out in their article (see p. 30), the center of gravity for e-mail archiving is shifting from the IT server room to the boardroom via the courtroom. The result: Storage administrators and e-mail managers will be, or already are, required to serve many masters. What you need is a comprehensive e-mail archive system, and these authors provide recommendations on what to look for.

As was clear from the action at last month’s LinuxWorld extravaganza (more than 11,000 participants and 200 exhibitors) open-source software is on a roll. However, “open source” and “storage” rarely find themselves in the same sentence. That may be changing, for reasons explained in “Open-source backup coming of age,” by the Taneja Group’s Christine Taylor (see p. 34). Open-source backup software, such as Amanda, doesn’t have anywhere near the features and functions of (high-priced and proprietary) enterprise-level backup applications, but for some shops-particularly smaller IT operations-the cost savings may be worth a look.

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Dave Simpson

This article was originally published on September 01, 2007