Take Your Storage into the Cloud

Cloud storage is a puzzle seeking a solution

Tivoli Beat. A weekly IBM service management perspective.

Storage challenges are already at the top of considerations for IT leaders today. And going forward, as cloud architectures become more and more prevalent and widely utilized, optimizing storage in a cloud context will only become more important in proportion.

Consider the trends:

For these reasons, organizations are increasingly seeking new ways to shield their critical data from many forms of risk. Yet given the fact that IT budgets are often either flat or actually falling, this is a puzzle that will often require a creative solution.

Cloud architectures, of course, can help. In a cloud, thanks to deep virtualization and automation, resources are leveraged not simply in a different way, but in a much smarter way. So instead of needing to purchase more storage any time they want to deploy a new application or service, organizations can often find ways to get higher utilization from the storage they already own.

The question then becomes: Is there a centralized way to handle not just diverse storage tasks, across many different business domains and data repositories, but also diverse IT architectures—including clouds?

IBM storage capabilities are a perfect match for cloud computing

"The IBM Tivoli service management portfolio includes storage solutions that leverage smart features, open standards, and proven best practices to help organizations get their arms around the complete storage challenge."

The answer, of course, is yes—and IBM Tivoli offers it. The IBM Tivoli service management portfolio includes storage management and backup/recovery solutions that leverage smart features, open standards, and proven best practices to help organizations get their arms around the complete storage challenge—protecting data in many different senses, and helping them get the best business utilization from it over time.

And just as these solutions have been making that happen in both traditional and virtual infrastructures in the past, they can similarly make that happen in cloud architectures—today and tomorrow.

Unified backup and recovery

One clear example: unified backup and recovery management. Ideally, organizations should be able to protect data wherever it lives, on all systems and endpoints, regardless of their nature or function. Furthermore, that protection should happen in an optimized way, both in terms of performance (speed) and storage costs.

The award-winning IBM Tivoli Storage Manager product family is exactly on point. This policy-based solution, which is also fully scriptable, can rapidly back up any data, anywhere in the IT infrastructure (including a cloud) to any designated media.

In fact, thanks to smart tiering capabilities, it can pair the media to the business priority of the data being backed up—helping to reduce costs. And because it delivers a central point of control over all backup and archive functions, it also empowers an overall faster, more agile way to shield data against the possibility of permanent loss, while also supporting any compliance initiatives that may pertain.

As the typical IT infrastructure has become more complex, many organizations have deployed a smorgasbord of point solutions to handle specialized backup domains like remote office, virtual machines, disaster recovery, always-on applications, and now cloud. Unified Recovery Management provides the ability to manage all of these requirements from a single administrative interface, eliminating significant costs (licensing, personnel, training) and risks.

Data lifecycle management

The business requirements associated with data naturally change over the course of its lifecycle. Organizations can and should take advantage of that fact as part of a total storage strategy, both in and out of a cloud context.

Consider, for instance, hierarchical storage management (HSM)—a concept that IBM invented. In this model, files are automatically migrated from one tier of storage to another based on where they are in their useful lifecycle. HSM offers potential cost reductions because it usually involves lower-cost media, such as tape or optical disk, instead of more expensive media like disk arrays or solid-state drives.

Tivoli Storage Manager can help you take full advantage of data lifecycle management of this type. Policies can easily be created to generate, maintain, or modify the placement, migration, and expiration of data—including files drawn from cloud architectures—while also reducing storage costs. For data of lesser priority, or where compliance issues and the likelihood it will be needed instantly are minimal, such a strategy can be very effective indeed.

Improved storage infrastructure optimization

Another slant on data you'll want to consider is how, and how effectively, your storage resources are allocated. This is already a complex area; visualizing storage utilization across a virtualized infrastructure is difficult enough, given the way storage is used dynamically based on business demands. And in a cloud, of course, resource allocation is typically even more sophisticated and complex.

In addition to a wide range of storage offerings per se—such as the IBM Storwize V7000 and IBM System Storage DS8000—IBM also offers extensive insight into how storage is used, and should be used, via IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.

This offering provides powerful insight over even the most complex storage infrastructures, helping you to clearly understand and manage storage across the cloud and cloud services, in whatever level of detail you require. Among other features: trend analysis, topology mapping, capacity planning and management, SAN performance, and hotspot detection.

Data storage footprint reduction

Data reduction is one of the most effective technologies you can apply to many storage challenges today. Via leading compression and deduplication techniques, it becomes possible to use far less storage total—yet not lose a single byte of information.

While most storage solutions offer some form of data reduction, though, not all solutions are created equal. The Tivoli Storage Manager family boasts truly industry-leading capabilities, such as progressive incremental backups that eliminate the need for full backups—instead, only new data is backed up. That translates directly into less storage required for a backup while also dramatically accelerating the total backup process.

Additionally, these solutions provide smart deduplication. When they encounter data that has already been backed up, they recognize it, and then instead of copying it, simply insert a pointer to the original version. Then, any time a recovery process executes, that pointer is used to find the necessary blocks of data and insert a copy of it into the recovered file or files. In Tivoli Storage Manager, deduplication features cover both the source and target sides, to maximize the advantages of this feature.

Storage virtualization and management

Storage virtualization is one of the foundations for effective cloud deployment. IBM offers a variety of storage virtualization and management solutions that can help you reduce the complexity and costs of managing your heterogeneous storage environment through advanced virtualization and management.

Today, expectations continue to rise, and business and IT are moving faster to respond. In server environments, virtualization has become the norm with hypervisors providing for increased flexibility and improved utilization of physical assets. CIOs are now turning attention to their storage estate.

Enter the IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center solution and its ability to make real, tangible impact on storage costs while dramatically improving flexibility. This solution gives CIOs enhanced control over the rising cost of storage by offering both a storage virtualization platform and centralized storage virtualization management. Plus, it offers much more than improved efficiency and data mobility—it offers the integrated services that IT managers need to meet rising expectations.

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