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Transforming to a Scale-Out Data Storage Approach

by Jackson B

By Florian Malecki, International Product Marketing Senior Director, StorageCraft

Data growth is surging. IDC predicts that global data creation will increase from 33 Zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025. Given this, IT teams must adapt to this jump in data creation by updating their storage strategies, but it’s not just about having enough space. With ransomware threats growing and more employees working remotely, it’s more important than ever to ensure that data is secure and accessible.

Today, there are challenges with traditional data storage methods, including little flexibility when a company needs to add more storage, and hardware is expensive. Managing storage is time-consuming, and since conventional storage often lacks deduplication and compression, data isn’t stored efficiently. Plus, migrating data is a massive undertaking when it’s time to upgrade, and adding backup and disaster recovery into the equation is a challenge.

Many organisations are adopting scale-out storage solutions that eliminate many of the issues afflicting traditional data storage methods. But what exactly is scale-out storage?

Inside Scale-Out Storage

Scale-out storage is network-attached storage (NAS) where the amount of disk space can be expanded by adding more drives to individual storage clusters, and more clusters as needed. Scale-out storage builds on the concept of clustering by adding features like data deduplication and compression, simplified remote management, and built-in backup and disaster recovery options. Ultimately, scale-out isn’t just another way to store data; it’s a

better way to manage, protect, and even recover it.

In most cases, a business taking this approach will see time savings, increased efficiencies, and downtime reduction. Here are just a few of the benefits:

Push-Button Scalability

Traditional storage isn’t practical anymore. With the explosive growth of data, legacy systems are quickly hitting their limits. That leaves businesses with a few options. Should they move data to the cloud and put their trust in a third party? Or should they continue supporting their infrastructure through expensive upgrades? For many, the answer is making the transition to scale-out storage. Specifically, with object-based scale-out storage, businesses can future-proof their storage infrastructure. Instead of having storage scattered across locations and hardware, object-based storage lets companies treat all storage as one global pool. When it’s time to upgrade, nodes and drives can be added to the storage cluster.

Simplified Management

Managing a storage infrastructure should be easy. The problem is that—given the pace at which data is growing, the increase in data silos, and the different types and sensitivity of some data—managing it isn’t easy. By centralising the entire data infrastructure, organisations can be more efficient, create uniform policies, and even run backups and recoveries, saving IT admins a lot of time and effort.

Data Storage Optimisation

Traditional storage is rarely used effectively. Inline deduplication and data compression can help solve that issue, enabling companies to use their storage space more efficiently. It is also beneficial for organisations to have the ability to buy more storage as needed. Since storage space is treated as one storage pool, IT admins should optimise the space used on each hardware piece—meaning they won’t have any half-full drives that are never fully utilised.

Disaster Preparedness

No storage infrastructure is complete without a plan for backing up and recovering data. Companies need to schedule backups, set retention policies, and replicate data to a variety of places. That includes on-premises replication targets, off-site data centers, or using a cloud service provider.

Florian Malecki

Florian Malecki

For one company specialising in insurance and related services, a closer look at its IT infrastructure led to greater efficiency and cost-savings. Previously with two expensive storage attached network (SAN) appliances reaching full capacity, the insurance company needed an upgrade. It was also mission-critical for this organisation to protect its data from any incident, whether a natural disaster or a ransomware attack.

The company was also required by its compliance auditors to store its backup data off-site. A scale-out architecture allowed the company to seamlessly add one drive at a time or multiple nodes in a cluster, making it ideal for large-scale unstructured data and backup targets.

The organisation then shifted its secondary storage load from its existing SANs, providing off-site replication for compliance. It can now recover data if a ransomware attack is ever successful since it is taking immutable snapshots every 90 seconds that can’t be altered or deleted.

The organisation could off-load its secondary data from expensive SANs, allowing it to use existing assets much longer and save budget. It now has enough storage for requirements today and enough scalability to support the organisation in the future.

Looking ahead to growing data, organisations ask if their current infrastructure can meet the surging and unpredictable demand, and how will that affect the IT budget?

Traditional storage just doesn’t cut it anymore. When scale-out storage solutions can lower the TCO, save companies’ management time, and protect from costly data loss and downtime, there’s no reason not to switch.

Writing for the South China Morning Post, Karen Chiu posits that ​increasingly prosperous Chinese consumers​ had more of a need for mobile payments. The largest banknote was 100 yuan (about $16) and carrying around wads of cash was becoming cumbersome. Elsewhere, mobile payments didn’t take off; instead, the main use for QR codes became ​ill-conceived marketing campaigns​ from brands that wanted to ​position themselves as tech savvy.

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