SAN Is The Answer
Increasing data production means a market explosion for the storage industry. Opportunities abound for integrators who know how to help others manage data. A SAN (storage area network) is the answer, says OEM software developer Syncsort.
Explosion. How many times have you heard that word over the past year or so? Data is exploding. The storage industry is exploding. NAS (network attached storage) is exploding. Not far behind is SAN. The cost of bandwidth and hardware is plummeting at a rate of up to 25% per year. As the cost to physically transfer and store bits and bytes drops, we produce more and more data. It's not good enough anymore to store letters and numbers. Now we store graphics, photos, videos - and sound. The word terabyte no longer makes an impression.
Keeping Up With Changing Data Needs
For the past 30 years, Syncsort Inc. (Woodcliff Lake, NJ) has been working on ways to help its customers manage data. When Syncsort began business in the late 1960s, most industry data resided on mainframes. The original founders of the company were mainframe systems engineers. They looked at ways to improve database load performance in large mainframe environments. The founders developed their own software, called SyncSort, a product that focused on data management functions, such as sorting, converting, and reformatting.
Over the years, systems decentralized, and Syncsort Inc. developed new software to accommodate the changing data needs of its customers. "As the client/server market developed, we provided technologies for new operating systems, like UNIX, Windows NT, and NetWare," said Vic Werner, director of marketing for Syncsort. "Then, six years ago, we addressed our customers' need not only to manage data, but to back up and restore in a distributed environment."
Addressing The Needs Of A Distributed Environment
"Many companies are becoming round-the-clock operations as a result of e-commerce and Web sites," said Winston Hait, senior product manager. "Being able to protect data and restore it quickly is essential to their operations." With a mix of desktop workstations, local area network servers, regional servers, Web servers, and other servers, managing data becomes even more complex.
The biggest backup concern for companies used to be payroll data. Now, data generated through e-commerce operations has become the biggest mission-critical backup concern.
Syncsort seized the opportunity and developed its own storage management software called Backup Express. St. Bernard Software's Open File Manager V6.2 complements Backup Express. "We created Backup Express with a single catalogue, one interface, and one master server to manage the mixed environment," said Hait. "We find that, even in mixed environments, there is usually one group responsible in the IT department that is in charge of the security and management of data. We're increasingly encountering environments with several platforms, like UNIX, Windows NT and 2000, and also NetWare. We developed our Backup Express product to manage the backup and restoration of data in mixed environments."
But Syncsort doesn't intend to stop there. "Take SAN (storage area network) for example," said Werner. "We're very involved with companies that are developing SANs. We're providing a laboratory setting for vendors to test their SANs with software management solutions."
At the recent AFCOM 2000 (an association for data center professionals) event in Las Vegas, Hait delivered a presentation entitled "The SAN's Revolution Evolution." Hait said that when he asked the 150 people in the audience how many currently had SAN solutions in place, only one hand went up.
"When I asked how many companies would have a SAN in the next 12 months, more than half the people put their hands up." SANs will help deal with the explosion of data, but Hait and Werner believe that vendors have to prove that their systems will work. "One vendor decides to sell a SAN," said Hait, "and it partners with three or four different companies for the switches, routers, bridges, and backup. The SAN solution will work, but if you remove one component and substitute it with one from another manufacturer, it won't function anymore."
So, many companies recognize that SAN will help them manage their data. The problem is the lack of standards in the SAN industry. At least everyone agrees that standards are needed.
"We will continue to focus on helping companies deal with data. The projection of the growth of data as a result of changing business environments creates a greater need than ever in our 30-year history," said Werner.
Experts like Michael Peterson, president and senior analyst of Strategic Research Corp. (Santa Barbara, CA), agree that there is more data than the masses can handle. Peterson believes that someone needs to take the lead to educate today's businesses.
Data grows like a mushroom cloud. Not enough IT managers have the sophisticated knowledge needed to integrate the problem solving. It's kind of like nuclear energy. The power it gave us! But now we have to figure out what to do with all the fallout that comes with it.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at AnnD@corrypub.com.