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What is Data Storage?

What are the different types of data storage, and how can you choose the best solution for your business?
  • March 18, 2019

What is data storage going to do to improve your business operations? It's no secret that technology glitches can (and do) occur for both small businesses as well as international corporations. Protecting your users' and company's important files and historical archive of documents with storage solutions is a vital part of running a business; it will also help to ensure that your files can be recovered if a major loss does occur. Reliability, cost of the storage system and security offerings are the major considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to implement data storage, performance management and disaster recovery plans.

Data Storage Definition

Data storage essentially means that files and documents are recorded digitally and saved in a storage system for future use. Storage systems may rely on electromagnetic, optical or other media to preserve and restore the data if needed. Data storage makes it easy to back up files for safekeeping and quick recovery in the event of an unexpected computing crash or cyberattack.

Data storage can occur on physical hard drives, disk drives, USB drives or virtually in the cloud. The important thing is that your files are backed up and easily available should your systems ever crash beyond repair. Some of the most important factors to consider in terms of data storage are reliability, how robust the security features tend to be and the cost to implement and maintain the infrastructure. Browsing through different data storage solutions and applications can help you arrive at the choice that is the best fit for your business' needs.

HPE Nimble Storage All Flash AF20Q Base Array

Types of Data Storage    

Numerous data storage types provide reliable protection of important files, but a few differences can help you find the best fit for your business. Computer memory and local storage may not be enough to keep your proprietary data protected. The best way to protect yourself is non-volatile data storage, which doesn't require continuous power to store and preserve data. Consider these non-volatile data storage options.

For best results in protecting your data, you should strive to maintain three copies of your important files. Store your primary data plus two backup copies, preferably with one backed up remotely and offsite.

Benefits of Efficient Data Storage    

As a business leader, you may wonder, "What is data storage going to do to protect and preserve my company's proprietary information?" You may want to know how much money a data storage solution can save your business, or how quickly you can get your company back up and running after a failure with the right data storage and recovery solution in place. Consider these data storage benefits to determine how big of an impact the right solution may have on your business.

•   Reliability of data preservation

•   Data continuity and accessibility

•   Quicker and easier data recovery

•   Flexible price points and capacity options

•   Effective security for protected files

The Future of Data Storage    

The data storage solutions highlighted above represent the current array of solutions, but the world of data storage is continuously evolving. The latest innovations in network storage can provide forward-thinking and comprehensive solutions for businesses that need to store a large volume of sensitive information. If your business has more complex data storage needs, you may want to consider one of these more advanced storage options. Let’s take a look at two of these emerging data storage technologies. 

Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization refers to the storage capacity that is accumulated from multiple physical devices and then made available for reallocation in a virtualized environment. It is the pooling of physical storage from multiple devices into what appears to be a single storage device managed from a central console. Relying on software to identify available storage capacity, the technology then aggregates that capacity as a pool of storage that can be used in a virtual environment by virtual machines.

To users, virtual storage appears like a standard read or write to a physical drive. It hides the complexity of the storage system, which allows users and administrators to perform tasks such as backup, archiving and recovery in an easier, less time-consuming manner. Storage virtualization can also help you increase storage capacity without the need to buy new storage devices.

Hyperconverged Storage    

Hyperconverged storage (HCS) is the next step up from storage virtualization. HCS utilizes the cloud to combine the functions of computing, virtualization and storage as a physical unit that can be managed as a single system. This is a type of software-defined storage because each node has a software layer running virtualization software identical to all other nodes in the cluster. This software virtualizes the resources in the individual node and shares them with the other nodes, allowing storage and other resources to be used as a single storage or compute pool. This virtualization aspect is an advantage of hyperconverged storage because it makes it possible to use commercial off-the-shelf hardware to make up the individual nodes. This means a hyperconverged device can be cheaper to build if you do it yourself or can result in a less expensive monthly or annual cost if you use a vendor. To users, virtual storage appears like a standard read or write to a physical drive. It hides the complexity of the storage system, which allows users and administrators to perform tasks such as backup, archiving and recovery in an easier, less time-consuming manner. Storage virtualization can also help you increase storage capacity without the need to buy new storage devices.

The combining of the storage functions into a single entity makes the transfer of data fast and efficient. In the past, to transfer data stored on one device to another, you would need to download data from one point to another and then bring the endpoint device online. With virtual disk storage techniques like storage visualization and HCS, you can specify the logical unit number of the drive and specify that data should now to go a new drive.

The future of data storage seems to be heading away from traditional tiered units in favor of combined services that give organizations more control over their data and eliminate the need for a large IT staff, as many functions can be handled remotely. Cloud storage that is accessible from different devices for users is another growing segment that shows promise to become even faster and more efficient. Flash storage and flash storage chips within SSD drives are being developed as a storage option on which you can rely. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also becoming more prevalent in newer types of data storage to handle repetitious tasks, such as managing backup schedules and setting custom recovery points for specific data sets.

The act of preserving important information and files is vital to ensure continuity and reliability of your data center and network infrastructure during day-to-day business operations. Like insurance, the hope is that your business won't need to use disaster recovery for your data. Worse yet, you don't want to end up in a situation where data loss is imminent without a disaster recovery plan in place. A data storage expert can help you browse through the different types of data storage and devise a plan to ensure your data is always protected, preserved and ready for restoration without interrupting your business operations.

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