Choosing the Right Storage Solutions for Long-term Business Growth August 27, 2012 RICCentre By: David Malmborg John McDonald is the new Entrepreneur in Residence at the RIC Centre. John’s role is to guide, connect and develop the network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entrepreneurs within the Peel Region. Information Technology helps organizations process complex information in simple ways, but what does your current data storage solution look like? Many small businesses rely on organically- grown, hodgepodge storage systems to handle their program applications, email, rich media, financial statements, credentials, and other digitized documents. As these businesses grow, however, so do their storage needs. At a certain point, most businesses find themselves struggling to work effectively with such thrown-together systems—it’s hard to keep data organized and protected when it’s scattered across multiple hard disks, servers, and USB storage devices. Networked Storage The solution to these problems is building a solid, long-term networked storage strategy that can easily scale as the business grows. Rather than scattering data across multiple PCs, laptops, and servers, a networked solution consolidates data into one or several locations for easier manageability and scalability. The two primary solutions for networked storage include network-attached storage (NAS)—a single storage device that is configured within an organization’s existing network—or storage area network (SAN)—a local network of multiple devices. There is no “one-size-fits-all” storage strategy for every organization, and recent improvements to NAS technology allow this solution to offer performance and capabilities similar to that of SAN. One of the primary advantages of using networked storage over spread-out solutions is its ease of use—data is stored in one place, and it can be treated and managed as a single resource that can be allocated as necessary. Since these solutions are also designed specifically for data storage, their hardware and software is designed for that end. Their read/write capabilities are extremely fast and can handle multiple requests simultaneously. The following are some other benefits and considerations that you should keep in mind when designing your storage solution: Data Security Data security means two things: Protecting your data from unauthorized access Having sufficient redundancy to protect from data failures Non-networked, PC-based systems are particularly vulnerable to security problems because employees rarely take the time to properly secure or backup their data. With a networked solution, backup and recovery systems can be automated and controlled, so data is always available, even in the event of a hard drive failure. NAS and SAN systems are also able to self-monitor, and alert you when one of their parts might be about to go down. Scalability As your business grows, so will your need for more storage. Can you add more capacity dynamically, without downtime? In the case of most networked storage solutions, the answer is yes. Scalability also means planning for the future—does your hardware vendor plan to support newer and better software management programs? Will you need to upgrade in order to add more disks? Manageability NAS and SAN solutions are much more manageable than hodgepodge PC-based storage is. Most solutions come with a single software interface that you can use to schedule backups, plan updates, and configure file serving needs. This will likely reduce the number of IT staff that you need to hire and make your storage system much easier and faster to handle. In addition since data is consolidated, employees can find what they are looking for faster, and you can count on your files being where they need to be when you need them. Has your business planned for long-term storage capacity growth? What solutions do you find to provide the most value? David Malmborg works with Dell. When David is not working, he enjoys spending time with his two kids. For more information on Dell’s storage solutions, David recommends clicking here. The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.