iSCSI has Setup Mid-Sized Organizations for a 2010 Data Migration Wakeup Call

In 2007, IDC estimated that 211 PBs of iSCSI storage was shipped worldwide. This grew to 500 PBs shipped in 2008 and was forecast to continue to grow in 2009 and beyond. But what those numbers do not reveal is that it is mid-sized enterprises who bought the majority of these iSCSI storage systems. Now these same organizations are about to get a wakeup call as they start their upgrade cycles and encounter the challenges associated with migrating data to newer iSCSI storage systems.

The period of 2006 through 2008 saw the rapid adoption of networked storage among mid-sized organizations with iSCSI storage systems assuming the role of favorite for these size organizations. So as they deployed these iSCSI systems, they went through great pains to centralize the storage of their application data on these arrays.

But that was 2 – 4 years ago and, with 2010 now upon us, these first generation iSCSI storage systems are starting to show their age. 250 GB hard disk drives (HDDs) and 1 Gb Ethernet ports are so 2007, manufacturer warranties on these storage systems are expiring and, as they do, pricey support contracts are kicking in.

This is prompting more mid-sized organizations to start product refresh cycles for their existing iSCSI storage systems to get newer systems. But as they do, the costs and disruption associated with this transition to a new system start to rear their ugly head.

The cost and disruption hit them in one of two possible ways. If mid-sized organizations are using and elect to stay with an iSCSI storage provider like Dell EqualLogic or HP LeftHand, they can leverage the software on these systems that do data migrations for them from the old to the new hardware so their disruption is minimal.

However there is a catch: organizations have to purchase all of their new storage from these providers to take advantage of these features. This leaves them with little flexibility or negotiating power when it comes to acquiring new storage since they can only buy storage from these providers in whatever storage configurations and prices that they make available.

Switching to another storage provider is just as bad if not worse.  While organizations are always free to buy from any iSCSI storage provider that they want, migrating the data from the old system to the new one becomes a costly and disruptive proposition. A worst case scenario includes:

  • Purchasing data migration software for each application server attached to the iSCSI array
  • Install and configure the data migration software on each application server, possibly requiring a server reboot
  • Configuring the application server to discover its assigned storage on the new iSCSI storage array
  • Use the application’s processing resources to copy the application data from the old system to the new system
  • Stop the application to start using the new storage system

Then there are the hidden costs associated with data migrations no one likes to discuss. Organization may need to continue to pay maintenance on the old storage system should the data migration take longer than expected or not go as planned (a likely scenario). Another probable expense is obtaining the vendor’s professional services that are needed in order to successfully complete the migration of data from one system to another.

The good news is that new options are now available that give users more flexibility to perform these data migrations without locking them into a specific solution or making the selection of other solutions impractical to implement.

Specifically, the RELDATA 9240i includes its own data migration software that can migrate data from any other iSCSI storage system to the 9240i. This can be accomplished without requiring third party software or contracting for expensive professional services to perform the data migration.

Further, because the 9240i can migrate the data while the application is still operating, application disruption is minimal and only needs to occur during the final stages when the application switches from it current storage system to the storage presented to it by the 9240i.

Storage system refreshes and data migrations are a natural part of the life cycle of any networked storage solution and beginning in 2010, more mid-sized organizations are going to run up against this reality. However this expense and disruption is not a requirement for those organizations willing to looking outside of the box for new and innovative solutions. By taking advantage of data migration features found on the 9240i, these organizations get both flexibility and choice when it comes to making a selection of an iSCSI storage system.

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