Before the internet, we had networks.
And, before we even had networks, we had data storage. Many people take data storage for granted. Yet, despite its long history, data storage technology and techniques continue to evolve.
Solid-state arrays, or shared storage device resources comprised of solid-state drives, are key storage options for data centers. The hardware accounts for 52.1% of primary storage market value.
Various storage vendors offer these high-performance, high-volume options.
However, some organizations have short term projects with smaller remote offices. In that case, dedicated storage hardware becomes expensive and cumbersome.
Other companies suffer extremely variable needs (i.e.: A Christmas product website), where the investment to cover peak business requirements go unused as a wasted expense during non-peak times.
One option, cloud-based storage, helps to manage uncertainty.
Inexpensive and ready to increase on-demand, cloud storage can be easily reduced from both a technical and financial perspective.
Both public and private clouds provide opportunities to pool resources with other companies (public clouds), or even just other offices (private clouds) to improve efficiency and save costs.
Software-defined storage (SDS) provides additional options to consider.
RedHat, for example, provides a good overview of the technology, and it’s heavily invested in SDS. Red Hat, which already owned Ceph Storage and Gluster, recently purchased NooBaa because its lightweight technology makes installation and usage very simple.
Software-defined storage also provides advantages when using virtual machines, and for those who need flexibility in general.
What SDS lacks in performance, it makes up for in increased adaptability and agility over hardware-based storage.
SDS uses a combination of local hardware platforms, and even integrates with the cloud, to provide a single-storage configuration. That arrangement deploys quickly, and independently of the differences in the underlying hardware.
Yet, SDS does come with some drawbacks. The increase in flexibility brings an increase in the complexity for troubleshooting.
If a local Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) fails, the errors are obvious and an IT manager can immediately contact the RAID vendor.
With an SDS deployment, that same RAID is hidden within the software-defined storage. In that case, neither the RAID vendor or the SDS vendor can see how the organization deployed the SDS to help.
Tracking down SDS issues between hypervisor (the hardware that creates and runs virtual machines), hardware, local disks and the SDS setup can be complicated. But, it’s no more complicated than integrating storage between multiple hardware setups in a traditional IT environment. It just puts the troubleshooting into a different stage of the implementation.
If your organization requires flexibility for deployment, keep these drawbacks in mind, but be sure to explore the SDS option.
Data Storage Security
Regardless of the solution, you must consider your security.
For example, Amazon has improved default security settings for its S3 storage solutions. However, the company will likely continue to see administration misconfigurations that lead to S3 data breaches.
Though, those issues are not unique to Amazon. If you use Microsoft Azure, or any other public cloud provider, you’ll need to exercise caution.
Data Storage Backups
Storage is also more than just a place to dump your data.
When it comes to data backups, your storage becomes a critical component of a company’s cybersecurity planning. The NIST Framework 1.1 lists recovery as one of the five core elements of the CyberSecurity Framework.
Data remains critical for the operation of any organization. You don’t need NIST to tell you that data preservation is a key focus for security and recovery.
Carnegie Mellon University lists Security & Backup as a major category in its data management basics. The university also provides several tips and guidelines for good storage practices, such as the Backup 3-2-1 Rule:
- Three (3) copies should be made of the data
- Two (2) different formats – Hard drive, tape, DVD, Cloud, Flash Drive, etc.
- One (1) off-site backup
Adopting this policy will help your organization offset many risks. It also provides you with options in the event of different types of disasters.
Several weeks ago, we noted that hurricanes can destroy local offices. So naturally, a cloud backup becomes a useful recovery option in those situations.
However, if an errant backhoe cuts your local internet access, suddenly cloud backups become less helpful. In that situation, you really need the local backup to be available and accessible.
Two key factors for data recovery are the format and location of your backup. Tape drives can be very robust, long-term storage of data. But, data recovery from tape drives is a long, painful process.
Recovering data from a cloud, however, is quick. Though, you must make sure that you’ve taken the additional steps in data security.
It’s recommended that you prioritize backup efficiency, as well, when selecting backup options. Many organizations do not perform daily backups, which exposes them to potentially losing several days, or even weeks, of data in the event of a crash or ransomware attack.
Many vendors offer NetApp compatible technology to provide rapid snapshots of your storage. Those snapshots enable quick restore points that can be configured to meet the 3-2-1 Backup criteria.
It’s no wonder that most cloud solutions now offer Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) for organizations of all sizes.
As with all new technologies, there are trade-offs and complications.
For example, cloud-based DRaaS vendors are easy to use, but at the cost of giving up control. The DRaaS vendor controls the infrastructure and removes the configuration & setup burden from your organization’s IT staff. And, you’ll only pay for the storage you use.
However, migration can be difficult, your organization no longer controls the data, and the service becomes connectivity dependent.
Additionally, there may be perception issues that provide a false sense of security.
For example, while Google Drive and Office 365 storage may be backed up by very large and dependable organizations, their backup generally applies to natural disasters and disk failures on their end.
So, if someone in marketing clicks on a ransomware virus, his Google Drive data might become encrypted, thus Google preserves a perfect copy of completely unusable data.
Likewise, if the VP of finance accidentally deletes her Office 365 folder containing the archived corporate tax records, a backup may not possess a snapshot of that user-deleted data.
The Right Support
A good backup strategy needs to be simple to use and cost effective. It must also include all critical data.
Never assume that your current set-up works – always test it. Reality is often more complex and difficult than perception.
If you’re unsure of which data storage option to choose, the Ideal Integrations team will help you find the solution that fits your company best, in terms of flexibility, budget, and security.
As with anything else, no two companies are alike, so you’ll need a unique set-up.
From data storage implementation to cyber security with Blue Bastion, we’ll help you maximize your return on IT!
For a risk-free demonstration, contact us today by completing the form below, or by calling us at 412-349-6680.
If you’ve been actively breached, and you need immediate support, call our incident response team at 412-349-6678.
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