5 Challenges of Managing Unstructured Data

Many organizations struggle with managing expanding volumes of unstructured data throughout the organization.  Storing, protecting, and providing secure access to this data creates challenges around cost, complexity, and scalability. Addressing these issues take cycles away from other important IT projects bringing innovation and future profits.  A new generation of software-defined storage (SDS) products offer solutions to these challenges.

The Unstructured Data Management Challenge

Unstructured data growth is filling the enterprise data center and its branch offices.  This growth brings on many difficulties.

  1. Filled data centers. While data growth creates demand for more storage capacity in the on-premise data center, floor space or power grid issues may hinder expansion. Higher density storage systems may be available to these organizations, but the budget doesn’t allow for the acquisition.  And double woes if a purchased storage solution doesn’t quite work out as intended
  2. Terabytes have become petabytes. Many legacy storage systems were designed when 100 TB was a lot of data, but many organizations now need to manage multiple petabytes of data. At petabyte scale, storing, protecting, backing it up, and recovering it all is problematic using legacy solutions.  IT managers may struggle with finding or training staff with the experience to manage these environments.  If staff leave, IT departments may be unable to replace these individuals, placing operations at risk.
  3. Remote office file data. Managing unstructured data at remote offices brings its own issues. Technology at these locations often lags behind the data center resulting in different technology throughout the business. Branch office locations often lack staff for IT support, and remote offices must involve others to help recover lost files.  File data may use up storage, and backup solutions may rob bandwidth during copies.  Consider that a one terabyte file directory may use two additional terabytes of storage for backup and offsite recovery.   For team collaboration of files hosted at remote offices, latency can become unworkable.
  4. Storage proliferation. Over time, a company grows and needs expanding storage. However, the current system hasn’t reached end-of-life.  So IT adds to it.  Now there are two systems instead of one to manage.  Two systems become three, four, five, and ten.  This growth may have taken place because of capacity requirements, maybe because of protocol requirements.  The effect is the same:  An organization with a proliferation of data silos without global visibility into the file estate of its multiple, underlying systems.
  5. Total cost of ownership. Enterprises need to consider the total cost of ownership for managing their unstructured data. Of course, there is the hard cost of storage infrastructure acquisition and the additional expense of supportive products and services to support file data storage. IT departments must factor in the ongoing expenses of maintenance and upkeep and the procurement cycles for budgeting, research, evaluation, procurement, and installation.

And so this explosive data growth, and especially of unstructured data, has created real problems.  These problems are untenable using legacy approaches for file data management.

SDS-based NAS Consolidation – Two Key Aspects

NAS consolidation based on SDS offers solutions for providing fast, flexible, usable access to all of an organization’s file data for all of its end users.
There are two different, key aspects of NAS consolidation offerings:
Replace. On the one hand, it may mean replacing multiple filers with a single solution designed for multi-petabyte management.  In some cases, that single solution uses object storage as the actual backing data store whether on-premises or in the cloud.
Integrate. The other aspect is integrating the enterprise’s existing filers under the domain of a global file system. This enables visibility and unifies management across the data landscape.  In other words,  aggregating, enhancing, and overlaying the management and visibility of the file data without necessarily replacing the existing storage system.
Many of these solutions address both aspects.

SDS-based NAS Consolidation Benefits

In addition, these products bring benefits through:
Deployment Options v2

  1. Elastic, scalable storage capabilities
  2. Large-volume storage management features
  3. Fast, modern remote office file sharing experiences
  4. Global file management capabilities
  5. Reduced total cost of ownership

Choosing an SDS-based NAS Consolidation Solution

Is your enterprise looking for a solution for managing unstructured data?  DCIG will be releasing several TOP 5 reports addressing file protocol use cases starting this month.  Organizations may use these reports to quickly identify a shortlist of SDS NAS solutions for evaluation and help decision-makers ask better questions about these solutions for their organizations.

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