DataCore Software today announced that it has published key findings from a series of global user group roundtables wherein DataCore users have identified their key lessons learned in working with DataCore's products for storage control, storage management and storage consolidation. Comprising the user group roundtables were representatives from Maimonides Hospital (US), Canon (US), NewYork- Presbyterian Hospital (US), Fidelity's Homebuilders Financial Network (US), World Savings (US), Fingerhut (US), Hunterdon Medical Center (US), Yorkshire Water (UK), Stephenson Harwood (UK), NAPP Pharmaceuticals (UK), Degussa (Germany), Bitburger (Germany), among many others.
"Over the past six quarters, DataCore conducted a series of quarterly user group meetings, which were held in the Americas, in Europe and in the Asia Pacific regions," said George Teixeira, President and CEO, DataCore Software. "The knowledge that we have derived by these is revealing and we feel that it is important to share this with the data storage community at large to help further best practices in the industry."
Key lessons learned from DataCore's global user groups include:
#1 -- Keep it simple and avoid complexity.
While hardware independence is crucial for purchasing advantages, within a given site users were in heated agreement to standardize on common hardware where practical (i.e. a maximum of 2 or 3 models/vendors), to zone by function (i.e. backup) or by application type so it makes it simpler to isolate problems; to set up a simple and obvious naming convention; and to protect systems with redundant paths and mirror key elements of your configuration wherever possible.
#2 -- Flexibility is key. Avoid vendor lock-in and proprietary hardware.
Participants in our user roundtables also reinforced the benefits derived from selecting hardware independent, portable management software that enables flexibility to meet change and greater purchasing choices on what hardware to incorporate. It was interesting to note that many virtual storage users were first introduced to the benefits of virtualization through seeing the benefits of virtual server technologies.
#3 -- Document your storage area network (SAN) environment.
Often ignored, this was a key point that many users cited that they wished they had known earlier. Planning and documenting the naming convention of your SAN environment can enable you to avoid complexity as your network grows. Take the time to think through the naming convention and make it simple and logical so it can grow with your systems.
#4 -- Test, test, test.
Users worldwide hailed the benefits in setting up a test or pre-production SAN.
#5 -- People, Product and Procedure are all equally important.
Storage management requires an understanding of skill sets, training and procedures of your organization. Don't expect miracle software cures; software is important but it is only one dimension of the solution. If you are going virtual, you should also rethink many of your processes to exploit the new benefits and cost savings possible.
#6 -- Good fences make good neighbors.
Segregate your storage traffic from your internal/public network (e.g. security) and limit access to "trained" personnel who understand the SAN. SANs support many servers and users; best practices and training must be embraced and instituted.
#7 Deploy a SAN with advanced storage management features to get more than connectivity.
Today's state-of-the-art features for storage management include storage virtualization, automated tools, snapshots, CDP technologies, storage pooling, "Auto-Grow" virtual capacity and remote replication. These advanced features enable a great deal of automation and allow your SAN to scale as well as to meet new requirements.
#8 Deploy a SAN solution with redundancy throughout.
A SAN architected correctly will achieve much higher levels of availability. Obviously, to get best results, your SAN solutions should be fully redundant and have dual controllers, power supplies, fans, network connections, as well as hot-swappable disk drives and components.
#9 Future-proof for storage management.
Computers are advancing every year, disk prices are dropping dramatically, new innovations like iSCSI and SAS are now practical -- make sure your infrastructure is hardware independent and can absorb new innovations when they make sense. Select storage management software and a SAN that can start small, that can ensure easy and cost-effective growth, and that can offer upgrades that do not require downtime.
#10 Keep it simple and avoid complexity for backups and disaster recovery.
Where practical, simplify and reduce backup procedures using continuous data protection (CDP) technologies, disk-to-disk copy and snapshots that give users greater control of their data protection and backup process as well as make it possible for users to utilize disk technologies to buffer storage and avoid the ever shrinking backup windows. Also where practical, utilize simple synchronous mirroring of your storage pool for disaster recovery (cross campus, cross town) or new Asynchronous IP-based mirroring for cost effective replication across longer distances.
DataCore has thousands of virtual SAN deployments around the world and an interesting point made by many of the users who choose to adopt virtual infrastructures was that while many were hesitant at first, once they did make use of virtual server technologies (e.g. deploying VMware or Microsoft virtual servers) or DataCore software for storage virtualization that they became champions for the need to further virtualize their IT environments. Cost savings, hardware independence, better resource utilization and of course greater productivity and faster response to change were the main reasons cited to explain their "mindset" change on why going virtual is the better way to go forward.
About DataCore Software
DataCore Software fundamentally changes the economics of managing storage. DataCore's disk server software easily adds capacity expansion and centralized storage management for Microsoft Windows, UNIX, Linux, VMware, MacOS, and NetWare systems. DataCore is privately held with corporate headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For more information, visit http://www.datacore.com.
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