A number of business and IT related issues are set to top the storage agenda of chief information officers (CIOs) in 2007, according to vendor Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

Ensuring all files are backed up and kept safe in a separate location is of paramount importance, but this year fears of the loss of company data, time and revenue will be tackled as more and more organisations put business continuity plans into place.

Organisations across the globe will continue to face a fragile environment of economic uncertainty in 2007. As budgets remain tight, the vendor warned businesses to avoid the trap of allowing this issue to restrict growth. Business managers should plan for all eventualities, but make sure they have the capacity to allow their organisation to expand.

It also points to increasing regulation, creating exponential growth in the amount of data that needs to be stored. While organisations might consider this to be a thorn in their side, HDS urged CIOs to see it as an opportunity to mine and manage their most important asset.

The level of mergers and acquisitions being completed in 2007 looks set to remain high and will provide a number of management challenges as organisations attempt to successfully harmonise two IT systems into one.

The vendor claimed companies can make life a great deal easier for themselves by adopting tools that allow common management across different environments, like virtualisation software, which operates across all types of storage hardware. As storage needs become more complex, virtualisation will also be an attractive option for CIOs keen to ensure their organisations are able to meet requirements while driving down costs.

IT related issues will also factor into 2007 storage strategies, topped by environmental issues and green computing playing an increasingly central role in CIOs’ project and budget planning according to HDS. IT departments will need to demonstrate to other areas of the business, investors, customers and their industry that they are doing their utmost to reduce power consumption while optimising the management of mission-critical company data. It suggested reducing equipment lifecycles by investing in scalable hardware will also become an important consideration.

2007 resolutions

David Spate, Europe, Middle East and Africa vice president of sales for backup and recovery software vendor, Yosemite Technologies proposes a set of data protection resolutions for the New Year designed to protect the health of systems and data.

For 2007, Spate said he resolves to:

  1. Re-assess our overall data protection strategy including software, hardware, and management costs;
  2. Set an adequate Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) for quick data restores;
  3. Set an adequate Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) for sufficient protection levels;
  4. Review our backup policies and procedures to evaluate if they are being followed, if they are providing protection for all necessary data and if the backup ‘windows’ we are using are adequate, given our media strategy;
  5. Execute full-system backups weekly, and incremental backups daily (or nightly) without fail;
  6. Test our restore procedures and software monthly, to ensure that they are operating properly;
  7. Identify and store a duplicate of our most critical data offsite and refresh it weekly;
  8. Create a “bare metal” disaster recovery plan, execute it and store copies offsite.

The year ahead will also see web 2.0 companies continue to stake their claim in the market. As the cost of storage capacity continues to fall, companies will compete with each other for customers by offering free capacity as an incentive.

HDS claimed this in turn will lead to a boom in information saved online, increased by the growing popularity of sites hosting user-generated content and email services where all user data is saved online instead of on the PC. This will mean emerging web 2.0 companies will need to ensure they have an effective storage strategy in place from the beginning.

And information lifecyle management (ILM) will become a redundant idea. The idea that information loses value as it gets older has been around for many years now, and is at the heart of the storage industry’s concept of ILM. HDS makes this claim contesting that, in an emerging environment where the most important piece of information a company holds is the answer to the chief executive’s next question, and compliance demands mean these questions can be about data that could be years old, it will no longer be enough simply to move information down the storage pile. CIOs will need to ensure data can be accessed quickly and easily, no matter how old it is.

HDS also said security in storage environments will get more attention. With increasingly strict rules governing data security, and penalties for improper management, getting the balance between user security and usability right is going to have a place near the top of the priority list.

Internet protocol (IP) technology is the last area HDS said will affect storage infrastructures, becoming a popular support for network attached storage. As storage needs become more complex, methods of simplifying data management will be in great demand. By transporting block-level storage over an IP network, HDS claimed CIOs will be able to maximise existing resources and extend their geographical coverage, creating a much more efficient architecture.