To Have and to Hold
- 06 February, 2004 10:10
Defining an Architecture
Good storage management is crucial, yet many companies have yet to build an enterprise-wide storage architecture that classifies data into: that which must be retained for regulatory reasons, that which drives business decisions, that which is business critical, and that which can be safely destroyed. Analysts say having an enterprise-wide storage architecture has many advantages, and means the organisation can ensure the most mission-critical information resides on the most reliable storage and can be quickly accessed, while less critical data resides on cheaper storage media.
Such an approach is working well at the ANZ Bank, where recently-retired chief operating officer David Boyles (see "Over and Out", page 106) says the IT group has developed a forward looking and rigorous information security strategy, plans, policies and tools that together drive an architecture that is a subset of the bank's overall IT architecture. Now no group at ANZ can implement a storage area network (SAN), network attached storage or any other storage technology without complying with both the information security architecture and overall IT architecture.
"We do have fairly prescriptive information security architectures and we have fairly proscriptive general IT architectures," Boyles says. "We won't allow things to be attached to the company network if they don't follow that. And that's just the way it is. I don't have any arguments about this any more - nor will my successor. If somebody wants to attach something that doesn't meet our standards then we can just turn them off."
In conjunction with specific asset assessment/risk assessment tools, the policy ensures information that must be guarded, kept private or backed up always resides in a data centre. So while the bank is seeing growth in storage of about 10 terabytes a year, the growth is virtually entirely confined to the data centres, putting ANZ in a powerful position to negotiate on storage hardware and software prices.
"I have had no friction on [the policy] for the past three or four years," Boyles says. "When I came here we used to have storage all over the place, literally, and didn't have a good understanding of what was on those boxes. Today we have a much better understanding of what's on every box and where it is and how it has to be protected. We just haven't had the issues that I'm hearing from some of my colleagues about storage popping up all over the place with the wrong kind of assets on it that are not being guarded."
Making It a Service
According to Meta Group, storage is moving to a services model, comparable to that of IP networking and (future) application infrastructure. In future, the research organisation says, storage services will be tiered in function, price and complexity, and delivered to applications and lines of business.
"For IT organisations to deliver on this direction, storage (all aspects of it - disk, tape, disaster recovery, capacity planning, and so on) must be perceived and treated as an infrastructure component," according to Meta. "Infrastructure components are common and reusable across as many consumers (for example, applications and servers) as possible; storage should be no different."
Meta says this means the IT organisation should ensure a storage infrastructure is an initial consideration rather than an afterthought driving business priorities. And it says infrastructure design and planning teams must have seats at the business project table and translate technology into business value.
Analysts say organisations gain if they incorporate emerging storage management technologies - including storage resource management (SRM), storage network management and storage virtualisation - into their storage management plans. Storage resource management tools can provide some clarity in a complex environment by helping to identify duplicate and obsolete copies of data. This can help fraught organisations to grapple with secondary storage requirements. Meta estimates such secondary storage requirements will exceed primary by seven to 15 times through to 2008.
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