Is London on the brink of a data crunch?

By David Galton-Fenzi, Group Sales Director, Zycko

It’s London’s turn next and as preparations for the 2012 Olympics get into full swing the city finds itself on the verge of a data storage crisis as Canary Wharf’s ability to accommodate new data centres reaches capacity.

In an effort to ensure our second chance at hosting the Olympics is as much a success as our first, the electricity requirements of building for the Games are taking precedence. This is compounded by an ongoing increase in the number of servers required by City firms and the corresponding need for more powerful cooling systems. In fact, in the run-up to 2012, it is expected that the power demand in the Docklands area alone will rise by around 90 per cent. Taken in the context of a government commitment to reducing CO2 emissions, it is clear that City firms are going to need to re-examine their data storage options.

Of course the option of moving away from the City is out of the question for most of the companies that will be affected, but some will be able to take advantage of locating all or part of their data centres remotely. This has traditionally been accepted as good practice for a secondary site as part of a disaster recovery strategy, but relocating the primary data centre away from the primary business location remains a step too far for many corporate cultures.

The solution lies not in finding more space for data centres, but rather in making existing centres more efficient; creating a 21st century data centre that will evolve to become a complete ecosystem where change in one area inevitably impacts what happens in another.

A key driving force behind this will be virtualisation – allowing server, storage and networking capacity to be deployed and redeployed at the touch of a mouse button. While the total virtual data centre as a living, ever-changing ecosystem may still be just around the corner, all the component parts are here today, and efficient data storage will be at its core. If the correct data does not arrive where it is needed, the data centre’s productivity is impacted.

Fortunately, virtual storage has been in existence for some time and has developed over multiple generations to become a stable foundation technology, on which more recent advances such as virtual servers can be built. Companies such as LSI’s StoreAge have been providing storage virtualisation for over a decade, with the added benefit of using this virtualised environment to allow the seamless and transparent movement of data between storage devices.

However, the main challenge remains the sheer volume of data being produced and stored at every level, from the home user right through to the very largest organisations in the world. This data deluge shows no signs of stopping and trying to limit the flow has implications for workplace processes and requires a significant change in corporate culture. So instead it is often simply labeled as a corporate overhead and left for the data centre technologists to handle.

In response to this a number of technologies have evolved to assist the data centre. These address the issue in different ways tailored to suit processes in the data storage environment.

The first of these is data compression where the amount of disk space needed to store data is reduced. Companies such as Storwize already provide a real time, transparent storage compression solution that optimises primary (disk) storage capacity in the data centre.

The second industry initiative is data de-duplication. While data compression has been focused on the primary storage, data de-duplication is directed at the backup and archiving arena. The idea is to have only one copy of any file stored in a system with duplicate copies deleted and pointers left to direct any data accesses to the principal copy, thus saving on unnecessary storage capacity consumption. Within this arena, companies such as ExaGrid and Diligent offer two different approaches that provide even greater granularity in creating de-duplication solutions.

The reason why this powerful tool is directed at the backup and archiving environment rather than primary storage is simple – it inevitably creates some overhead on the process of accessing data. Primary storage is much more about speed and performance than efficient capacity usage making any operational overhead unwelcome. The future data centre is an ecosystem which will require architecting at a macro level. This in turn will be dependent on sub-systems such as data storage to be able to integrate and provide an effective and efficient service. These storage sub-systems of the data centre ecosystem are in turn dependent on point technologies working at a micro level providing them with the tools to deliver what is needed.

The lesson to be learned from all this, is that the necessary future for both data centre professionals and their suppliers looks like an integration of skills, enabling them to move back and forth between the micro and the macro environments, if the integrated 21st century data centre is to reach its full potential and enable us to avoid a data crunch ahead of 2012.

Zycko is a value-add distributor of best-in-class convergent IT infrastructure solutions through a channel of resellers, systems integrators and service providers.

Zycko is privately held and has been profitable since inception in 2000, when the company’s original charter was to market data networking accessories to resellers as a wholesale distributor. Zycko now employs 250 staff, serving over 3,000 resellers around the world from thirteen offices on four continents. The company enjoys an annual turnover of more than $180 million.

Zycko’s provision of best-in-class IT products and logistics management is supported by true value-add professional services - such as pre-sales expertise, technical support, custom configuration, an industry leading accredited training program, and marketing support. These vital services and support enable our customers to quickly deliver profits and invest in new market opportunities, allowing them to differentiate in a crowded market. Zycko is the channel partner of choice.

Zycko’s strategic partner base includes world-class companies such as Avago, Asigra, Diligent, Edgewater, Epicenter, Hitachi Data Systems, Intransa, Isilon, LSI, OnStor, Polycom, Powerdsine, QLogic, Riverbed, Usystems.

Zycko is exhibiting at Storage Expo 2008 the UK’s definitive event for data storage, information and content management. Now in its 8th year, the show features a comprehensive FREE education programme and over 100 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 15 - 16 October 2008

Source: StoragePR