Enterprise storage

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In computing, enterprise storage[1] is the computer data storage designed for large-scale, high-technology environments of modern enterprises. In contrast to consumer storage, it has higher scalability, higher reliability, better fault tolerance, and a much higher initial price.

From the salesperson's point of view, the four main enterprise storage markets are:

  • Online storage - large disk array solutions, minimizing access time to the data, and maximizing reliability;
  • Backup - off-line storage for data protection, with a smaller price per byte than online storage, but at a cost of higher average access time; often uses sequential access storage, such as tape libraries;
  • Archiving - technically similar to backup, but its purpose is long-term retention, management, and discovery of fixed-content data to meet regulatory compliance, litigation protection, and storage cost optimization objectives;
  • Disaster recovery solutions, used to protect the data from localized disasters, usually being a vital part of broader business continuity plan.

The enterprise storage industry includes conferences,[2][3] publications,[4][5] and companies (3PAR, Atempo, Fujitsu, Iron Mountain, Isilon, EMC, DELL, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, Novell, Open-E, Pillar Data Systems, Sun Microsystems, Syneto Storage, Symantec/Veritas Software, WhipTail, etc.).

A common expectation is that hard disk drives designed for server use will fail less frequently than consumer-grade drives usually used in desktop computers. A study by Carnegie Mellon University[6] and an independent one by Google[7] both found that the "grade" of a drive does not relate to the drive's failure rate.

A 2013 criticism piece remarks that:

You might think that the hardware inside a SAN is vastly superior to what can be found in your average server, but that is not the case. EMC (the market leader) and others have disclosed more than once that “the goal has always to been to use as much standard, commercial, off-the-shelf hardware as we can”. So your SAN array is probably nothing more than a typical Xeon server built by Quanta with a shiny bezel. A decent professional 1 TB drive costs a few hundred dollars. Place that same drive inside a SAN appliance and suddenly the price per terabyte is multiplied by at least three, sometimes even 10! When it comes to pricing and vendor lock-in you can say that storage systems are still stuck in the “mainframe era” despite the use of cheap off-the-shelf hardware.

Large enterprise and corporations demand high quality storage medium that has enough memory storage to hold all of the businesses data, in addition to high reliability due to the importance of data in a large scale organisation. It is these key features that differentiate enterprise storage from consumer storage, and is the reason for why it tends to be considerably more costly than consumer storage due to the quality in storage required. Larger organisations also need to consider the legal requirements of holding key data about customers or clients and will need to oblige to the Data Protection Act. In addition some government legislations such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act require businesses to ensure that they are backing up data regularly, not doing so may result in data being deleted.[9] This further highlights the need for organisations to hold powerful and reliable storage mediums in order to adhere to these laws and legislations.

Hard drive storage medium[edit]

Hard Drive[edit]

Apple's Xserve RAID mass storage device

One of the most common storage medium used in large organisations is the Hard disk drives.[10] Hard disk drives are the most common used by high profile organisations and have many advantages, but however also many disadvantages, they are as follows:

Advantages

  • Data is not lost when you switch off the computer
  • Large storage capacity Stores and retrieves data much faster than a floppy disk or CD-ROM
  • Usually fixed inside the computer so cannot get mislaid.
  • Hard disks can be replaced and upgraded as necessary
  • Cheap on a cost per megabyte compared to other storage media.
  • Can have two hard disks in a machine, one can act as a mirror of the other and create a back up copy.[11]

Disadvantages

  • Hard disks will fail at one point, and if not backed up then all data may possibly be lost.
  • Too much movement or touching of the hard drive may potentially cause damage to the hard drive eventually leading to the failure of the hard drive.
  • Data is held only on to the computer and cannot be taken out. This can cause some problems as it might not be accessible by all members of the organisation, which may potentially cause halts in work flow.
  • Hard drive disks have a physical presence and as a result this may lead to it being stolen or potentially lost.

One of the most common storage medium used in large organisations is an External hard drive. Hard drives can most typically hold around 750 Gigabytes to 8 Terabytes of data, which can prove to be enough for a typical organisation, however with the rapid growth in electronic data in most cases this generally isn't enough. As a result numerous hard drives are generally required in order to be able to support all of the companies data and backup data with ease. Hard drives do have its problems however, and this is primarily due to the physical presence of a hard drive which puts it as a risk to theft or being lost. Additionally it also has a risk to being potentially broken which is the many reasons for why a business may not opt to use hard drives in their operations.[12]

Online storage (Cloud storage)[edit]

Online storage/ Cloud storage[edit]

Online storage or Cloud storage Is the modern method that is becoming increasingly popular, and is being used by many large businesses as a form of storage for all of their data. Online storage does have a wide array of cons and can often prove to be quite costly which might not necessarily be desirable by large organisations.It also has many advantages of using online storage due to its convenience and its accessibility which makes it a very viable option to choose from.

Advantages[edit]

  • The main advantage for online storage is that it is accessible anywhere there is internet, and as a result is also available 24/7 which provides convenient data access and allows work to be carried out at night. If organisations do not wish to keep the storage accessible at certain times, it is possible to support it and limit access times.. This is particularly useful for large organisations as it helps to support for teleworking and also helps to cater for those who go on business trips and means that they will be able to work whilst away abroad.
  • Data is much more safe online as it isn't a physical device. This means that the storage cannot be lost or stolen which allows for much more safety. Organisations can limit the access to data to only senior members of the staff force in order to be able to protect key data from getting out.
  • Online presence means that the data will not be effected by any natural disasters which means that the data is likely to be much more safe and secure.
  • Data can be shared much easier amongst people. This is massive for large organisations due to the rising importance of communications within a company, members of the staff will need to be able to access different storage points in order to carry out their work and online storage allows a perfect way for people to carry this out.
  • Data recovery: online data storage sites tend to provide quick recovery of any data that may have been lost. This is as a result of regular backups carried out by the site, and this means better reliability and continuity of service which is crucial particularly for large e-commerce businesses.
  • Automatic backups can be carried out in online storage which can be massively helpful particularly due to the fact that time is crucial within a large or organisation and they will attempt to find ways to save their time.

Disadvantages[edit]

  • Another major disadvantages is that there is always a possibility for the company providing the storage to fail, which could lead to key data being lost and also that storage space being lost.
  • Cost is a major issue in online storage, some sites offer storage for free however at limited rates. This is not something that large organisations can use given the share volume of data within a company the free storage will not be sufficient. The other options in the market generally tend to cost a lot with prices of up to £79 a year from Drop box.
  • Online storage can only be accessed in places where there is an internet connection, and backups can only be made granted there in an internet connection. This means without the connection data cannot be accessed which can slow down or stop work flow.
  • There is also a potential for a hacker to access an account and take crucial data such as payment info, which could cause many businesses to gain heavy negative publicity. There is also a potential for the actual company to get hacked which could put many data servers at risk, which could prove to be fatal for large businesses.
  • Often there is a limit to how much data can be used, if the amount of data was to go over the allocated limit then the data storage company may charge extra.
  • Backups on the cloud storage can be slow, however this is dependent on the internet speed of the user.[13]

Backup Methods[edit]

Backups are the vital storage of data, so if data is lost there is still an identical copy that will allow the key data and information to still be accessible and used for day-to-day work flow.[14] Backups can also be done through online storage[15] and can allow continuity of service, and also help to ensure that vital data is not lost in the event that the data storage fails. This is particularly useful for large organisations as data make up the vital pieces that will allow them to be able to carry out their work.

These are the Backups most typically used in large high technology organisations:

Normal (Full) Backups

Incremental Backups

Differential Backups

Mirror Backups

Full Backups[edit]

Full backup is the starting point for backups and is generally the first backup that is made. It involves backing up all of the data in one go, and is a good method of backing up when there is not much needed to be backed up,however if there is a lot to be backed up then the back up may take a considerable amount of time.[16]

Advantages[edit]

  • File restoration is relatively easy and can be done from one backup.
  • The files can be backed up on to one central storage unit instead of many.

Disadvantages[edit]

  • A full backup is more time consuming than other backup options.
  • Full backups require more disk, tape, or network drive space.

Incremental Backups[edit]

Incremental backup refers to the type of backup that stores files since the last backup that was made. This will mean that incremental backups take the lease time to backup, however restoration may take some time in order to be able carry out the process. It is a wise choice for large organisations who have lots in order to backup and as a result it will save time and can allow regular work flow rather than having to wait for backups to be carried out. However the restoration may take time as the last full backup and incremental backup needs to be restored in order for data to be brought back.

Advantages[edit]

  • Backup time is faster than full backups, as there is less needed to be backed up.
  • This type of backup generally required less space then a full back up, and as a result more incremental backups can be carried out over time.

Disadvantages[edit]

  • Restoration time might take a considerably long times as all the other incremental back ups or a full back will need to be found. This may take further time actually looking for the back ups which is not very good for large enterprise to which time is so valuable.

Differential Backups[edit]

A differential backup is the backup for all of the changed files since the last full back up, This way it is able to do a very quick back up in addition to saving a lot of memory space which will allow for many backups in the future. The reason why it is saving memory space is as a result of it not backing up all of the files however only the files that have been changed. The advantages and disadvantages of Differential Backups are stated below:

Advantages[edit]

  • Differential backups require even less disk, tape, or network drive space than incremental backups.[17]
  • It is the quickest in backup out of Full and Incremental

Disadvantages[edit]

  • Restoration of an individual make take time to locate and as a result having to go through both Incremental and full backups
  • Restoration may take some time as a result of the potential in having to retrieve both full and incremental backups.

Mirror Backups[edit]

Mirrored backups will backup the files on to two hard drives in order to ensure that the data is safe and is on two physical devices in order to ensure extra security in addition to being able to ensure that the back ups are not lost over time. This is a common strategy used by e -commerce businesses in order to be able to have continuity in service as if their hard drives fail then the online site cannot function.

It will back up onto two hard drives to avoid losing back ups[18]

Archiving[edit]

Archiving is not Backing up a computer.[19] Database Archiving is the process of putting data on to a database to be kept over a long period of time and monitoring exactly who can use the data.[20]

This is most likely to be limited to senior members of staff or those who are allocated to be able to use the data. The advantages of this is that the business can protect its key data as only a few people will be able to use it. Another benefit of this is the ability to be able to use the query function in the database to find the records or data that will need to be required. It also helps to meet legal requirements as data needs to be kept in a safe and secure place in order for the business to be able to hold key information about its clients and customers. It also helps to deal with any customer queries that may potentially last years or months.

The disadvantages of archiving is the fact that it might be very costly for a business to hold all that information, in addition to it being very difficult to make sure that it is secure and is not under threat by any hackers or unauthorised access.[21]

Examples of failures in enterprise storage[edit]

[22] One of the major failures in enterprise storage history was the PlayStation breach of 2011 and most recently 2014. Sony had been breached by a highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack. This lead to key information such as payment details being let out to the hackers which was hugley controversial and brought massive negative publicity for Sony entertainment.Consequently Sony were fined £250,000 and lost a lot of their brand trust. Sony had stored their data on to a network online storage server with strong means of protection for this network, despite this it was still breached and personal details such as bank account details were released. The PlayStation network also lost service for 77 million PlayStation Network customers and its 25 million Sony Online Entertainment customers.[23]

“This criminal act against our network had a significant impact not only on our consumers, but our entire industry,” Hirai said. “These illegal attacks obviously highlight the widespread problem with cyber-security. We take the security of our consumers’ information very seriously and are committed to helping our consumers protect their personal data. In addition, the organization has worked around the clock to bring these services back online, and are doing so only after we had verified increased levels of security across our networks.”

—Kazuo Hirai on Playstation security breach

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What is Storage". Dell.com. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  2. ^ Storage Decisions
  3. ^ Storage Networking World
  4. ^ Storage Magazine
  5. ^ InfoStor
  6. ^ "Everything You Know About Disks Is Wrong". Storagemojo.com. 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  7. ^ Eduardo Pinheiro, Wolf-Dietrich Weber and Luiz André Barroso (February 2007). "Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population". Google Inc. Retrieved 2011-12-26. 
  8. ^ http://www.anandtech.com/show/7170/impact-disruptive-technologies-professional-storage-market
  9. ^ Rouse, Margaret (June 2014). "Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)". http://searchcio.techtarget.com/. Retrieved 2014-10-28. 
  10. ^ "Everything You Wanted to Know About Hard Drives". http://www.seagate.com/. Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  11. ^ "Pros and Cons of Data Storage Devices". http://blog.digistor.com/. August 17, 2012. Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  12. ^ "Choosing the Best Data Storage Solution". http://www.entrepreneur.com/. Digistor. Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  13. ^ "Cloud Computing – Disadvantages". http://www.top10cloudstorage.com/. www.top10cloudstorage.com/. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  14. ^ de Guise, Preston (2006). Enterprise Systems Backup and Recovery: A Corporate Insurance Policy. USA: Auerbach. p. 4. 
  15. ^ "http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/guides/online-backup-services". http://www.bbc.co.uk. WebWise Team. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  16. ^ "Description of Full, Incremental, and Differential Backups Print Print Email Email". http://support.microsoft.com/. Q136621. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  17. ^ Adshead, Anthony. "Incremental vs. differential backup: A comparison". http://www.computerweekly.com/. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  18. ^ "Mirrored Database Backup Feature in SQL Server". http://www.mytechmantra.com/. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  19. ^ De Guise, Preston (2006). Enterprise Systems Backup and Recovery: A Corporate Insurance Policy. USA: Auerbach. p. 17. 
  20. ^ Müller, Heiko (2 February 2009). "Database Archiving". http://www.dcc.ac.uk/. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  21. ^ "Unauthorised access (hacking)". http://www.grantthornton.ie/. Grant Thornton. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  22. ^ "Sony facing profit hit on Playstation security breach". 1 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 
  23. ^ Smith, Catherine (2011-04-05). "Sony PlayStation Network Hacker Hunt Taps Top Cyber-Sleuths". Retrieved 2014-10-30.