Networked storage may add to complexity of disaster recovery planning

Networked storage may be a hot technology, but it's not a panacea for data recovery. In fact, managing networked storage can be so complex some experts wonder whether it's making disaster recovery planning even more elusive.

NEW YORK--Networked storage seems to be the wave of the future, but there was concern among storage experts at the Marcus Evans Conference on Data Storage and Business Continuity here Tuesday, about whether current management tools are helping or hindering the now disaster recovery-conscious industry.

"Networked storage is not a panacea for data recovery," said Jon William Toigo, independent expert and author of The Holy Grail of Data Storage Management.

Recovering data in a disaster situation is the difference between life and death for many companies, but inefficient management of storage is making the difficult task of disaster recovery planning an even bigger problem.

"When we started talking about SANs [vendors] said all these problems would go away," said Toigo. "Shortcomings in management are placing all data at risk."

If you want to fix disaster recovery you have to put management in place, he said.

So what's wrong with SAN management? Toigo said policy-driven automation based on application requirements is the cure for SAN complexity, but real products have yet to surface.

Sheila Childs, vice-chairperson for the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) said a SAN is not a SAN if it cannot be managed, but maintained that SANs are still the best choice for the end user.

"There is a management gap. We still need to get better at management software," she said. "But [users aren't] buying this stuff because it's cool, they're buying it because it is useful.

The initial cost for a SAN is still high, but SNIA maintains that the long-term cost is higher for direct-attached storage (DAS) because SANs can better utilize storage and reduce hardware costs over time.

Bill Matts runs a strictly DAS shop as director of IT operations for Mishawaka, IN-based National Steel Corp.

"We run our devices until they die," he said. Certainly we take some risks at what we do. We could do it better, but that would cost money and that's tough to justify in these [economic] times."

Matts faces interoperability problems between newer technology and old disks, tapes and software that still runs in his environment.

"We have a lot of old applications and we've tried to stamp out some of these [problems], but it's still out there," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor


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