Data, Data, Everywhere

By Donna Moyer

Remember the days of 40MG hard drives? Or how excited you were when you had a Gig of disk space on your laptop? Yet now we can travel with 1/2 TB of space on a flash drive smaller than a paperback. Technical advances and dropping prices allow us to give users what they want—more space to store their stuff. But as George Carlin pointed out in his famous stand-up routine about Stuff, some challenges can result. Read on to find out what we are seeing as we visit customers, plus some great solutions to help.

The Challenge:

We are living in the information age and data is king. Users want rapid access to their data and don’t want to have to worry about losing an important document or email that they might need ‘some day.’ In a society where discovery for court cases has extended to electronic documents, penalties can be high for not being able to produce the right document. As we visit customers, we see both file system and email stores growing out of control. It seemed to happen overnight and everyone is talking about it. So why not just keep adding disk space? After all, as we stated above, disk space is cheap and easy to come by. However, some serious challenges arise from simply adding disk space to disk space:

  1. Backup Windows Are Extended: Depending on your particular rotation strategy, some backups may be finishing just as your users are logging back into the network.
  2. Maintenance Takes Longer: If you do have a hardware or software issue, rebuilds of large data volumes (such as NSS pool rebuilds) can take a great deal of time and put your systems out of production, thus impacting user and business functions.
  3. Data Migrations Take Longer: While we can do seed and delta copies when migrating to new hardware, all of these take longer and longer as our stores grow.

Some Solutions:

There are many ways to solve this situation – all revolving around reducing the size of your production data stores and putting less-recently-used files and data off to cheaper devices that need to be backed up less frequently. Here are three options to consider:

  1. Email Archiver: While email archivers were originally used to capture all emails in the event of a court case, they are also a great way to reduce the size of your post offices. The advantage is that users have the comfort of knowing that the data is still available if they need it, and thus are less likely to complain about archiving and retention policies. Solutions like Messaging Architects M+ Archive support stubbing, so users ‘see’ the email as if it were in their mailbox.
  2. Dynamic Storage Technology: Included with OES, DST allows users to create a shadow volume and move less-frequently-used files off to cheaper storage based on the policies you set. Users see the files as if they were still on the same volume. When they access them, the files are automatically moved back to the production disk. The cheaper storage can be backed up less frequently and at a time that is convenient for you. Plus, you reduce the size of your production data volume.
  3. Novell Storage Manager: Novell Storage Manager allows you to create storage limitations for various groups and automatically move files to the storage device of your choosing – all based on the policies you define. The program snaps into eDirectory. It is great for schools who are moving student files to new directories based on class enrollment. It also permits or prevents the storage of certain files based on groups; for example, you can pre-determine to only let your music class students and faculty store MP3s.

Like any other implementation, planning for the needs of your organization is key. But by selecting a few of these strategies, you can find a place for everyone’s ‘stuff’ and still keep your network running at top speed!

© Copyright 2009, Uptime NetManagement, Inc.

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About the Author:
Donna Moyer is Principal/Senior Network Consultant of Uptime NetManagement, Inc. ( Uptime is a Novell Gold Solutions partner providing technology solutions, customized training, and consulting services. If you are interested in finding out exactly what Novell can do for your business, or are seeking to maximize the benefits from your current Novell systems, call us today at 610-621-1244!

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