Looking at the full

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2006-03-26 Print this article Print

lifecycle of data"> To build an ILM environment, "you have to understand how mission critical the data is—how its going to be used," said the NASDs Colburn. "Will it be toward analytics? Reporting? How often will it be accessed? You have to understand the data usage across an organization. That becomes a critical point when you start to look at full data lifecycle management."

The NASDs handling of data is under especially tight scrutiny due to its role as the primary regulator of the U.S. securities industry. It regulates more than 5,100 brokerage firms, about 115,940 branch offices and about 657,800 brokers.

Colburn said the NASD relies on preset rules that require specific information from member firms to enter its IT systems at certain points in time. Once data arrives, its moved onto storage and fed into an operational view of ways the NASD uses the data and then moved depending on regulatory need based on reporting and analytics.

This process is driven by the timeliness of data. Most of the NASDs data is held at an operational level, or production environment, on Tier 1 storage. By comparison, Tier 2 is used to develop applications and mechanisms that involve a longer-term view of data, such as disaster recovery.

The NASD is running EMCs Symmetrix off its SAN for mission-critical data and Tier 1 storage, as well as EMC Centerra units for e-mail archival. For Tier 2 purposes, the organization uses EMC Clariion boxes for development and is currently evaluating Sun Microsystems StorEdge 6920 technology in the same environment.

Click here to read a review of the StorEdge 6920. Balancing budgetary considerations with current and potential future ILM demands—along with factoring in business growth forecasts—can seem at times like walking a tightrope.

"From a budgetary perspective, you clearly have to look at what your growth looks like and how [information] is being used," Colburn said. "I think that begins to dictate how you slot [cost]. Thats what we look at. We look at regulatory needs [and] what were trying to accomplish. As a result, that dictates what our budget looks like."

Other companies are looking at ILM as a way to stretch limited budget dollars for storage. Despite sustaining an annual 59 percent data growth rate, UPMCs storage budget increase is capped at 25 percent. "Thats the budget they give us. What were doing and are expected to do, were not allowed to grow out," said Furmanski in Pittsburgh.

UPMC has inked an eight-year, $402 million agreement with IBM to help transform its enterprise server and storage architecture into an on-demand and ILM-based vehicle.

After some "housecleaning" to collect storage utilization rates on its AIX, Solaris and Windows platforms and sweep away seldom-used data, UPMC opted to move its storage systems to one large, unified SAN situated directly behind IBMs TotalStorage SVC (SAN Volume Controller) virtualization technology, Furmanski said.

"Were really just starting to understand and show how we look at storage differently now, in terms of how we manage it, provision it and share it across the enterprise," Furmanski said.

By masking areas of complexity within UPMCs storage infrastructure—featuring 350TB—SVC can more easily identify available resources and eliminate islands of storage that may have previously been swallowing vast amounts of data onto ill-suited hardware.

Originally, UPMC planned to run IBM TotalStorage DS8300 for electronic medical records, migration of management materials and human resources records; the DS6800 midrange disk system; and the DS4000 and DS4800 to comprise the third and final storage tier with low-cost SATA (Serial ATA).

But SVC has changed all that by allowing UPMC to set up a separate group of storage service levels that are no longer tethered to physical storage hardware or devices.

CernerWorks Graff said the ILM approach has given him more clarity on his storage management, but there is still work to do.

Created in 2000, CernerWorks client base had outgrown two data centers by 2004. The strain of supporting 100 health care providers had exposed holes in the business units SAN architecture and led to sprawling storage fabrics, complex interswitch designs and multiplying management challenges.

Click here to read more about HPs Medical Archiving Solution and its other offerings for the health care market. CernerWorks Tier 1 storage runs on HPs XP1024 and XP12000 high-end disk arrays. The top tier stores "life critical" production information containing patient data thats always available. Its imperative that the Tier 1 storage boxes are able to receive platform upgrades without system disruption.

Tier 2 features HP EVA (Enterprise Virtual Array) 5000 and EVA8000 midrange disk arrays. The boxes store nonproduction copied data and can be used for development needs.

For its Tier 3 storage, CernerWorks is evaluating the HP Medical Archiving Solution to store offline images to house PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) technology. For backup, Tier 4 consists of HP StorageWorks 6510 Virtual Library Systems for rapid restore and recovery of seven days of backup and EMC Legato for slightly longer retention. Tier 5 offers HP and IBM tape products for long-term and off-site backup with disaster recovery in mind, Graff said.

One of the next big challenges for CernerWorks is to deploy a single centralized management suite to better manage its tiered storage environment. CernerWorks is evaluating storage resource management tools, such as HP Storage Essentials.

But even that wont get Graff to the finish line. CernerWorks plans to open two new data centers this year, followed by two more next year.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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