Take a Risk-Averse Approach to Innovations in Archiving

Reducing storage costs is a major thrust in a number of blog entries that recently appeared in Permabit’s new blogging site, Permabits and Petabytes. In these blog entries, Permabit’s CTO Jered Floyd discusses how specific Permabit technologies (deduplicationRAIN-EC, etc.) work and how they can help companies reduce their overall storage costs. These points are critical for users to understand both in terms of understanding the technology as well as how it can help them save costs long term. But I’d like to add on to what Floyd discusses in his blog entries and more specifically examine how companies can mitigate some of the risks associated with introducing any new technology regardless of who the provider is.
As a former end-user, I know companies internally spend a lot of time talking about the importance of cutting costs. But at the end of the day, often their bigger concern is to mitigate risk in their environment. So no matter how much money a new technology saves, companies do not want to adversely impact their existing production environment.
However, standing still is not an option either. The question for companies then becomes which technologies are worth taking a chance on and innovating versus preserving the status quo. While everyone’s criteria for making that decision and tolerance for risk are different, a major question they always ask is, “What happens if it does not work in my environment?”
This is probably the biggest concern of most IT managers. They may not like the current way their system works but it is the devil they know. If they take money from their existing budget, purchase a new technology and then it does not work the way they envision, are they up a creek without a paddle?
So this brings me back to the points that Floyd raised in his blog entries. Yes, he appropriately argues that the Permabit Enterprise Archive can lower your storage costs and protect your data. But for most companies, the Permabit Enterprise Archive will also be net new technology to their environment. So to alleviate potential customer concerns about the unknowns associated with the purchase of an Enterprise Archive, there are four features that help to take the risk out of the new purchase acquisition.
Permabit Enterprise Archive:

    • Is already in production environments. Enterprise Archive’s underlying technology is already mature in a space that is peppered with emerging software. It is already in use in production environments and has years of development behind it (they actually started back in 2000).

      • Uses industry standard interfaces. One of the problems with archiving appliances like EMC Centera is that unless your application supports Centera’s APIs, you can’t store to it but, more disconcerting, you can’t retrieve data from it either. Permabit Enterprise Archive uses industry standard CIFS, NFS and WebDAV interfaces for data access and retrieval so companies can always access and retrieve their data now and into the future.

        • Starts small but can scale to manage petabytes of data. One of the advantages of using Enterprise Archive’s storage grid architecture is that companies can start with a small configuration and then scale it as their capacity and/or performance demands increase. This gives them the ability to minimize initial risk. In addition it typically ends up leading to the realization that the archive can be used for many more purposes than initially thought, due to its open interfaces, flexible management capabilities, scalability and cost benefits. As they utilize the Enterprise Archive for more applications and expand their storage needs they can non-disruptively scale it at that time. All of these attributes enable the risk of adding new technology to be reduced and even eliminated.

        • Stores infrequently accessed data. Enterprise Archive is not looking to store your company’s frequently accessed or transactional data but rather its infrequently accessed data. That changes the risk associated with implementing this technology substantially as well as the potential upside. It’s no secret that up to 80% or more of data in some environments is infrequently or never accessed after it is stored on production storage. Storing this data in the Enterprise Archive not only will reduce production storage costs, it should help to improve performance of production applications. This also has the added side effect of reducing backup windows and restore/recovery times of primary storage data. The data is also stored on a reliable platform that leverages RAIN-EC technology which Floyd’s blog provides more technical detail on.

        There are always a thousand and one things to consider in the purchase of any new technology but an almost universal question that every company asks is, “What happens if it does not work in my environment?” Due to its open interfaces, Enterprise Archive should work in any environment which Permabit backs up by allowing users to do proof-of-concepts to ensure that there are no questions that it does work in your environment. By offering a mature platform, starting small, scaling large and then only storing infrequently accessed data, it by its very nature takes almost all of the risk out of the equation. In so doing, companies can answer their nagging concerns about risk management without putting their data or their enterprise applications in harm’s way and can begin to address their major storage growth issues sooner rather than later while saving substantial primary storage expansion costs in the process.

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