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meeting the data challenge with better storage policies

Organizations that rely on expensive strategic assets develop sophisticated policies which dictate the proper use, protection, maintenance, upgrading and eventual disposal of those assets. The operators of an oceangoing cargo ship maintain long and detailed instructions about how this expensive vessel, and its cargo, must be handled and maintained in all weather conditions, in every type of port and carrying every type of cargo. Banks have strict policies governing money, ranging from what ID a customer must present to cash a check to the amount and types of collateral required for loans. In each case, the aim is to ensure the asset is available to the maximum possible extent whenever it is needed, while protecting it as completely as possible against damage or loss. In an age of global competition and commoditization of many products and services, information has become a strategic asset, whether that information relates to market trends, customer needs, sales or competitive trends. Despite the strategic value of data, many companies have weak or even nonexistent poli- cies for managing their data storage. This is especially true for the unstructured or semis- tructured data in documents, spreadsheets and emails that can comprise as much as 75 % of corporate data. The store of unstructured data often includes some of the most valuable information about sales leads, financial trends and product development trends. The data management policies that do exist are often created by individual business units, creat- ing confusion, inconsistency and added cost when different business units need to share information. The unhappy end result is duplicate or inconsistent data; hard-to-access data; embarrassing and expensive losses of customer information; or even a total lack of informa- tion about what data the organization owns.

Despite the strategic value of data, many companies have weak or even nonexistent policies for managing their data storage.

Progressive companies are adopting data management policies that maximize the usability and the security of data while also reducing the capital and operational costs of data man- agement. In this white paper, we explore the leading practices around storage policies for data, including the importance of policies for the management of unstructured data.

top priorities for storage networking and data center management 61% 44% 40% Implement distance replication

top priorities for storage networking and data center management

61% 44% 40% Implement distance replication or migrate data between data centers 39% Re-architect existing
61%
44%
40%
Implement distance replication or migrate data between data centers
39%
Re-architect existing SANs or design next-generation SANs
32%
Use the networked storage infrastructure to facilitate storage tiering and ILM:

Reduce the complexity/cost of managing and maintaining storage

Reduce the cost and time required to provision, activate/allocate, and/or boot servers

source: 2006 brocade end-user survey. results based on responses from 572 it professionals

The Need for Storage Policies

In today’s global economy, buyers and sellers are linked by worldwide networks that provide 24/7 access to products and services from anywhere in the world.The result is that competi- tion is everywhere; markets can change overnight, and customers can easily compare similar products and services from multiple vendors. As products and services become more com- moditized, information often becomes the critical differentiator that makes one competitor more successful than others.The company that uncovers a market trend first; that most quickly accesses customer records to provide superior service or that can best analyze a customer’s buying habits is often the company that will survive such a brutally competitive environment. Information is, of course, based on data, which organizations see piling up over time. Some of this is in the form of structured data in databases, such as customer names, transac- tion records and sales data. Every ecommerce transaction, every bill or payment and product shipment generates more structured data. But an increasing percentage of critical data is in the form of unstructured data, such as word processing documents, spreadsheet files and email messages. Every memo about product development; every email about a new customer pros- pect and every sales or spending forecast in a spreadsheet adds to the volume of unstructured data, which could hold vital secrets for the business but only if properly managed. Consider the case of a sales rep in Australia who just won a sale by citing a weakness in a competitor’s product, says Brocade Vice President and CIO Marti Menacho. “If a sales rep in the United States faced a similar challenge against the competitor, would he or she know which weakness to cite so that they, too, could win the sale?” It is customer and product knowledge like this, often stored as unstructured data, that drives increased revenue and market share – key metrics for any CEO. “Some of this data may be in your typical customer relationship management, sales force automation and enterprise resource planning systems,” says Menacho. “But it is most likely also in your own homegrown and departmental systems. Properly accessed and shared, such information can

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Data Point: Brocade estimates that between 60% and 80% of data in today’s corporate environment is outside of the ``structured’’ category. While structured data is found in databases and applications such as enterprise resource planning suites, unstructured data is commonly found in office applications and semistructured data in emails.

resource planning suites, unstructured data is commonly found in office applications and semistructured data in emails.
3 increase customer loyalty, increase cross-selling, decrease cost of sales and reduce the sales cycle,”

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increase customer loyalty, increase cross-selling, decrease cost of sales and reduce the sales cycle,” says Menacho. As if these benefits weren’t incentive enough, an increasingly strict regulatory and legal environment requires companies to keep far more data for longer periods. Regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley require public companies to safeguard (and to document the safeguards) on any data used to generate quarterly financial results. Consumer protection laws require companies to document when customer information has been improperly disclosed, and to notify those customers of the breach. In many cases, it is as important to quickly retrieve historic data (say, to satisfy a request from an auditor, regulator or attorney) as to secure it in the first place. Finally, business users expect data to be quickly available whenever they need it, to be quickly restored in the wake of a disaster and to be properly secured. And, because the busi- ness itself must stay cost-competitive, they expect the cost/Mbyte of storage to drop every year. A survey conducted by Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. showed that reducing the cost and complexity of storage was the top priority (cited by 61% of respondents) for storage networking and data center managers. Clearly, the only way to meet all these requirements is through well-defined, enterprise- wide storage management policies that cover unstructured as well as structured data and that fulfill corporate storage requirements ranging from security and disaster recovery to avail- ability and cost-effectiveness.

after sans: fans

The typical user in a branch office creates or accesses files all day in the form of emails, word processing documents and spreadsheets. Those files may be moved from place to place in the data center as they age, are backed up or become more or less critical to the organization. But the user still wants to ac- cess these files easily and quickly, even if they are moved from the network drive on which he first stored them. The storage staff, on the other hand, needs to be able to quickly back up and restore file data from remote offices, or from business partners, without having a skilled IT professional at the remote site. They need to ensure that all users physically mapped to a specific network drive are notified and remapped when the data is migrated to a new location; to restore access to those networked files in the event of a system outage and to transparently move network file data to the storage device best suited to its importance to the enterprise. Given these needs, it’s not surprising that Brocade’s 2006 survey of storage managers showed interest in global file shar- ing was up 45 points to 65 percent, with the top issues men- tioned by users as business continuity/disaster recovery, capac- ity reporting, ILM and storage consolidation and migration. While only 14% had deployed solutions for the migration or consolidation of file data, 64% said they planned to evaluate or deploy such a solution. One technology that can ease the management of such un- structured data is the file area network (FAN.) A FAN refers to the hardware and software which makes file-level information available across a storage network.

file-level information available across a storage network. Like a SAN, a FAN abstracts the physical location

Like a SAN, a FAN abstracts the physical location of files from their virtual name. FANs are based on “namespaces,” which are file systems that organize, present and store file content across the storage network and allow administrators or users to use a common file name to find the file they need regard- less of where it is stored. Vendors are currently working to provide namespaces which can provide file access across het- erogeneous platforms, and which can also provide capabilities such as access control, file virtualization and de-duplication to reduce storage requirements. Brocade’s Tapestry StorageX, for example, is a suite of applications which logically aggregate distributed file data across heterogeneous environments, al- lowing administrators to automate policy-based management of the data.Tapestry StorageX preserves the existing namespace of the device it virtualizes, while allowing file-level operations such as migration and management. “The StorageX Global Namespace does for files what DNS does for networking,” says Sri Seshadri, director of prod- uct marketing for Brocade’s Tapestry File Services Division. “It provides a directory service. This directory service can deliver location-independent services to users and applica- tions across multiple, heterogeneous, distributed file sys- tems. Once implemented, a Global Namespace enables users to access files in a logical, location-independent way, much like how one accesses Web pages on the Internet.” Using a global namespace, one high-tech manufacturing company saved $1.1 million over three years by moving many files to less expensive storage arrays, as well as to re- duce the total amount of data under storage from 75Tbytes to 68Tbytes.

Benefits of Storage Management Policies With any critical asset, the benefits of well-defined management policies

Benefits of Storage Management Policies

With any critical asset, the benefits of well-defined management policies range from lower asset costs over time and increased availability to avoiding loss and ensuring that the asset is used in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Effective storage management policies reduce costs because they force an organization to—perhaps for the first time—understand the nature of its data, and evaluate what levels of storage and protection each class of data requires. In some cases, this review will reveal that much of the organization’s data actually is over- protected, or is stored on platforms that are more expensive than the data requires. Usually, between 60% to 80% of all stored files haven’t been accessed within the last 30 days. Storing such inactive data on primary storage devices is increasingly costly and inefficient. Well-thought-out policies can also ensure that data that should be kept available is made available, and that frivolous or tainted data is expunged from the system.These policies must, however, go beyond simply classifying data based only on file type. One hospital, for example, was moments away from deleting MP3 files from the network, assuming they were users’

impact of classification in the enterprise

file storage Utilization in mid-to-large size organizations

before classifications

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90%

after classifications

AvAilAble CApACity

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inACtive dAtA inCluding CompliAnCe dAtA

frequently ACCessed

business dAtA

100%

90%

80%

30%

after policy execution

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business dAtA

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personal music collections, until they realized those files were in fact medical dictation records. A credit card company actually began deleting “inappropriate” video download files from its servers, until the human resources group called to ask who was deleting their training videos. The implementation of sound storage policies that place data on the type of storage platform for which it is best suited and consolidate data on central storage can reduce total storage needs considerably. Cost-cutting is always welcome and even necessary. But growing corporate revenue and expanding markets is an even more compelling value proposition to CEOs, boards of direc- tors and investors. Here, storage management policies can deliver by making it easier to cross-sell to existing customers and to find new market opportunities. The types of information that can help drive more sales to existing customers include information about the customer’s past purchasing trends, past sales to them by other divisions within the enterprise and the number of support incidents they have expe- rienced. “Unfortunately, this data is not all in the same place,” says Menacho. “Some may be in a customer relationship management, sales force automation or enterprise resource management system, while other information will be in files created by office productivity applications.” By helping companies track and manage where unstructured data is stored, storage policies can also help assure regulatory and legal compliance and aid in the development of an overall ILM (information lifecycle management) strategy, in which data is moved to more or less capable storage platforms as its importance to the enterprise changes. Nearly half of the data center and

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more or less capable storage platforms as its importance to the enterprise changes. Nearly half of
storage managers surveyed by Brocade said they planned to implement or at least study ILM.

storage managers surveyed by Brocade said they planned to implement or at least study ILM. The development of well-thought-out storage management policies is especially helpful in reducing the risks, and maximizing the benefits, of unstructured data.

Defining Storage Policies for Your Organization

The data and storage needs of any organization will differ based on the business that orga- nization is in; the amount and types of information it stores; the laws and regulations under which it operates; the competitors with whom it battles and the partners with whom it cooperates. Creating a comprehensive storage policy for your organization (or for the various busi- nesses within your organization) requires accounting for technical factors such as the amount of data within the enterprise; the regulatory and legal requirements governing it; the data availability requirements of various users and other issues such as disaster recovery and business continuity needs. William P. Hurley, a senior analyst with the Data Mobility Group, recommends creating a “partnership” atmosphere which includes players from the legal, security, records and information management and IT groups.Together, this group can identify all the informa- tion “repositories” within the enterprise, as metadata identifying who created the data and why. It can also identify the key business issues surrounding the business’ use of data, such as the need to identify customers, understand markets better or to share information more effectively with outsourcers and business partners. Finally, experts recommend a tiered deployment, beginning with a pilot implementation of the strategy, moving on to a limited rollout and finally moving across the enterprise. This allows the group managing the policy rollout to identify early benefits to promote the value of storage policies; to find and fix problems in the policies, and to build consensus around the need for, and the proper design of, enterprise storage policies.

Conclusion

Information, data and storage are too critical not to be managed properly. Proper storage management policies allow organizations to reduce costs, assure security and regulatory compliance, and best of all see and exploit new market opportunities before the competi- tion. Developing proper storage management policies requires companies to do a detailed inventory of their information needs and current storage assets (including unstructured data), and to get the input and cooperation of everyone with a stake in corporate informa- tion. Navigating the technical and political challenges isn’t easy, but is vital if organizations want to excel in today’s global, competitive economy. n

About Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

Brocade delivers industry-leading platforms, solutions, and services for intelligently con- necting, managing, and optimizing IT resources in shared storage environments.The world’s premier systems, server, and storage providers offer the Brocade SilkWorm family of Storage Area Network (SAN) connectivity platforms as the foundation for shared storage in organi- zations of all sizes. In addition, the Brocade Tapestry family of IT infrastructure solutions ex- tends the ability to proactively manage and optimize application and information resources across the enterprise. Using Brocade solutions, organizations are better positioned to reduce cost, manage complexity, and satisfy business compliance requirements through optimized use and management of their IT resources. For more information, visit the Brocade Web site at www.brocade.com or contact the company at info@brocade.com.

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For more information, visit the Brocade Web site at www.brocade.com or contact the company at info@brocade.com.