Storage UPDATE, June 16, 2003

Storage UPDATE--June 16, 2003

This Issue Sponsored By

Dantz Development Corporation

Precise SRM Software Solutions


1. Commentary: Disk Fragmentation Study Makes Annual Appearance

2. News and Views - Dell and EMC Extend Storage Alliance - IDC: Networked Storage Top Seller

3. Announcements - Guide to Securing Your Web Site for Business - Get the eBook That Will Help You Get Certified!

4. Events - Security 2003 Road Show

5. Resources - Using an Exchange Recovery Server

6. New and Improved - Facilitate Best Storage Practices - Solve HIPAA Concerns - Submit Top Product Ideas

7. Contact Us - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. Commentary: Disk Fragmentation Study Makes Annual Appearance ==== by Elliot King, [email protected]

Sometimes it takes a while, years even, for a message to sink in. A couple of weeks ago, the market research company IDC issued a report about the high cost of disk fragmentation. The report is based on testing that the National Software Testing Laboratory (NSTL) conducted.

Disk fragmentation is one of those nasty little facts of computing that affect everything from desktop computing to larger-scale servers. Fragmentation is inevitable because of the way hard disks operate. When a user initially saves files to disk, the system saves the files in contiguous clusters. As additional files are saved, in general, they too are stored in contiguous clusters on the disk. When users delete files, the space they once consumed becomes available for new files. As this process continues, the disk becomes filled with discrete spaces once occupied by the various deleted files. At some point, no contiguous clusters large enough to save a specific file remain. Consequently, files to be saved are broken into pieces and stored in the discrete clusters that are available, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because the fragmentation process completely fills the empty disk space. Without fragmentation, disk space would be underutilized. In addition, many hard disks come from the factory with a certain percentage of bad clusters. The ability to divide a file into fragments for storage minimizes the impact of those unusable clusters.

However, disks can become highly fragmented. A study by American Business Research conducted in 2001 polled 100 large corporations and found that 56 percent of the Windows 2000 and Windows NT workstations in those companies contained files that were saved in fragments varying in number from 1050 to 8162 total fragments. The study showed that, in 25 percent of the files that were stored in fragments, the fragments totaled more than 10,000 per individual file. The figures showed an increase in fragmentation for servers: 33 percent of the servers in the study contained individual files that were stored in more than 10,000 fragments.

The performance of highly fragmented disks deteriorates significantly. Each fragment requires a separate I/O process because the read head must jump from track to track to reassemble a selected file. Most users intuitively recognize this phenomenon when programs take longer to boot and files load more slowly. But poor performance is only part of the problem. Disk fragmentation can cause system reliability problems and drain Help desk resources.

The good news is that performance increases after defragmentation operations can be impressive. In a test that used Windows XP and Microsoft Small Business Office XP, the NSTL found that Microsoft Outlook showed an increase in performance and ability to load and unload information and respond to specific actions ranging from 67.9 percent to as much as 176.1 percent after disk defragmentation. Microsoft Excel performance increased 83.7 percent. For Win2K and NT servers and workstations, defragmentation improved performance by 61.9 percent to as much as 219 percent. Such results have led IDC to conclude that effective disk defragmentation processes can help companies avoid some hardware upgrades.

The question is, how can an administrator conduct an accurate cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to invest time and resources in defragmentation? Some simple solutions to disk fragmentation are available. For example, virtually every computer with a bundled OS contains a defragmentation utility program. Unfortunately, most users don't bother to defragment their disks. Those who do often find that defragmentation can be a long, anxiety-inducing process. In any case, leaving enterprise systems' health in the hands of end users isn't good administrative practice. However, manually defragmenting disks is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Several products on the market can manage defragmentation at the network level, but a dispute has simmered between competing vendors as to the best way to compare products. As with many benchmarks, the conditions under which the testing of defragmentation products is conducted dramatically affect the results.

Even with the impressive performance improvements that disk defragmentation can provide, you need to carefully weigh the amount of time and money you want to invest in a defragmentation tool. Keep in mind that defragmentation is essentially a tuning process and not a panacea for system performance woes.


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==== 2. News and Views ==== by Keith Furman, [email protected]

Dell and EMC Extend Storage Alliance

Dell and EMC have announced that they have agreed to extend their storage alliance another 2 years. The companies signed a 5-year agreement in October 2001, which allowed Dell to resell EMC gear. The new extended agreement will end in December 2008. The companies cite the success of the agreement as the reason behind the extension. More than 4100 customers have purchased storage systems while the agreement has been in force. Within the alliance, Dell has been able to expand its product offerings, whereas EMC, which traditionally catered to large corporations, has been able to gain access to Dell's small and midsized business base.

Since Dell and EMC started working together, Dell has begun manufacturing Dell/EMC CX200 storage systems, which are designed by EMC. Other milestones in the companies' relationship include the joint training of over 2000 Dell professionals in storage technologies; a new series of Dell/EMC networked storage systems for entry-level to enterprise-level customers; a Storage Area Network (SAN) system that uses low-cost ATA and high-performance Fibre Channel technologies; improved storage software for management and disaster recovery; and the acceleration of SAN and Network Attached Storage (NAS) convergence.

IDC: Networked Storage Top Seller

According to a new report by market research firm IDC, Network Attached Storage (NAS) for the first time has topped Direct Attached Storage (DAS) in sales. In first quarter 2003, NAS revenue was higher than that of DAS, which saw sales drop 1 percent from the previous quarter. Overall storage capacity sales have increased, growing 49 percent from last year. The storage industry shipped 175.6PB of storage capacity in first quarter 2003.

"Network storage for the first time represents more than half (53 percent revenue share) of the total external disk storage systems market, up 5 points from a year ago. The traditional direct-attached storage system represents 42 percent of total external disk storage revenue in the first quarter, down from 46 percent a year ago," said Charlotte Rancourt, research director of IDC's Disk Storage Systems program. EMC leads network storage market sales with 26.3 percent revenue share. In overall disk storage sales, Hewlett-Packard (HP) led the market with 26.3 percent revenue share. In second place was IBM with 19.1 percent, followed by EMC with 11.7 percent.

==== 3. Announcements ==== (from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Guide to Securing Your Web Site for Business

Download VeriSign's new white paper, "Guide to Securing Your Web Site For Business," and discover the practical business benefits of securing your Web site. You'll also learn more about the innovative processes and technologies VeriSign uses to address Internet security concerns. Download your free copy now!

Get the eBook That Will Help You Get Certified!

The "Insider's Guide to IT Certification," from the Windows & .NET Magazine Network, has one goal: to help you save time and money on your quest for certification. Find out how to choose the best study guides, save hundreds of dollars, and be successful as an IT professional. The amount of time you spend reading this book will be more than made up by the time you save preparing for your certification exams. Order your copy today!

==== 4. Events ==== (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

Security 2003 Road Show

Join Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott as they deliver sound security advice at our popular Security 2003 Road Show event.

==== 5. Resources ====

Using an Exchange Recovery Server

One of the most challenging areas of a Microsoft Exchange Server administrator's job is disaster recovery. One solution--an Exchange recovery server--can be a useful tool for every Exchange administrator. To learn more, go to:

==== 6. New and Improved ====

by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Facilitate Best Storage Practices

TeraCloud announced SpaceNet 3.0, a Storage Resource Management (SRM) suite to support Network Attached Storage (NAS) environments. SpaceNet identifies, monitors, analyzes, manages, and facilitates best practices in storage environments. SpaceNet identifies when, where, and how your company is using storage resources. For pricing, contact TeraCloud at 425-709-2900 or [email protected]

Solve HIPAA Concerns

STORServer announced HIPAA Conformant Backup Appliance, a solution designed to address changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The solution combines hardware, software, and services to help users meet the October 16, 2003 deadline to achieve HIPAA mandates. The solution starts at $20,000. Contact STORServer at 719-266-8777.

Submit Top Product Ideas

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]

==== Sponsored Links ====

- FaxBack Integrate FAX into Exchange/Outlook (Whitepaper, ROI, Trial)


==== 7. Contact Us ====

About the commentary -– [email protected] About the newsletter -- [email protected] About technical questions -- About product news -- [email protected] About your subscription -- [email protected]om About sponsoring UPDATE -- [email protected]


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