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.


  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