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INFO TECHNOLOGY

Hardware technology: Storage and SAN Management

Managing individual computers, local networks or even large-scale corporate networks can often be quite complicated, both from the perspective of the hardware used and the operation systems and software applied. Maintaining a wide network without effective managing software leads to an extended time period for rectifying malfunctions, local administrators' delayed responses to user requirements, and even jeopardising the overall utility of the productive system.
In addition, this poor management has a cost in human resources as well, since each branch needs a highly qualified expert or often experts to deal with these malfunctions.


Stanislav Dzurík

Managing individual computers, local networks or even large-scale corporate networks can often be quite complicated, both from the perspective of the hardware used and the operation systems and software applied. Maintaining a wide network without effective managing software leads to an extended time period for rectifying malfunctions, local administrators' delayed responses to user requirements, and even jeopardising the overall utility of the productive system.

In addition, this poor management has a cost in human resources as well, since each branch needs a highly qualified expert or often experts to deal with these malfunctions. Large-scale corporate networks nowadays comprise smaller interconnected LAN networks at individual branches, which are connected to central networks by a slow WAN line.

The relevant applications are based on a decentralised client-server principle, which can be efficient to a certain extent, but also brings a number of disadvantages that I briefly described in my previous articles. Regardless of the problems related to the ineffective use of hard drive, tape or other storage devices, or to a dramatic and constant increase in data volume over a short period of time (which constantly increases the time necessary for data backup and recovery), what increasingly becomes an important issue is IT systems services' restoration after failures.

While a system is down companies can incur both direct and indirect losses. For an example, we can use an idea published in PC Week, which stated that 50% of the companies that experienced a 10-day or more blackout of IT systems were driven out of business within five years.

A brief look at the estimated damages caused by short-term IT system blackouts is also interesting. For example, a brokerage can suffer a loss of up to $50 million annually just because of a cumulative data inaccessibility period of nine hours. Over the same period, a telecommunications company's loss can amount to $200,000 annually; for airline tickets reservation companies, the loss might be $750,000 annually, and so on. Interestingly, a nine hour cumulative annual blackout actually proves that a system has a reliability rate of 99.9%. Thus, with only a 99% reliable system, losses increase ten-fold.

Any company striving to improve its services and gain market share must set itself increasingly more ambitious goals. These goals can be achieved much more efficiently by improving the accessibility, safety and security of data, as well as enhancing data recovery in a very short time span.

A viable solution seems to be a gradual building of Storage Area Network (SAN), together with implementing high-performance storage management and SAN management software. Such a solution enables consolidation and the shared use of storage devices over a long geographical distance (tens of kilometres). It even enables sharing data at file level, and moreover can manage rapid data volume increases as well. While it significantly shortens the time period necessary for data backup and recovery, it improves data resistance and thus resistance of the entire system against breakdowns or failures.

Recovery of data from warehouse applications is also greatly improved, which provides better, faster and more efficient decision-making by senior managers. This solution enhances adaptability of the company to changes in market conditions, which can help the company increase profit and fend off competition.


Stanislav Dzurík is an IT consultant at Columbex International. Comments and questions can be sent to his email address at: dzurik@columbex.sk

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