Storage UPDATE, October 14, 2002

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October 14, 2002—In this issue:


  • Understanding Data Life-Cycle Management


  • The Exchange Solutions You've Been Searching For!
  • Planning on Getting Certified? Make Sure to Pick Up Our New eBook!


  • Storage Highlight: Storage Area Networks
  • Featured Thread: Backing Up an Exchange Server
  • Submit Top Product Ideas


  • Use an Alternative to Fibre Channel or SCSI Arrays
  • Consolidate Tape Information


  • See this section for a list of ways to contact us.


  • Understanding Data Life-Cycle Management

  • (by Elliot King, [email protected]) The advent of storage networks and Storage Resource Management (SRM) software and the move to consolidate IT facilities and cut costs have compelled many companies to reshape their storage infrastructures. But an emerging new management discipline might have a long-term impact on the way administrators plan and implement storage capacity. The new discipline examines the data life cycle and is aimed at effectively managing the aging of data.

    The concept behind the data life cycle is that data has different values at different moments in time. For example, when an email message first arrives, the information it contains might be urgent. With each day that the email stays in an Inbox, its urgency potentially diminishes. After 3 or 4 days, an email message might have no value at all to the user. However, as the Microsoft antitrust case and the recent cases involving the recommendations of analysts at New York stock brokerages demonstrate, email messages might retain value to other parties even if they're no longer useful to the recipient.

    Administrators can use a data life-cycle management approach to assemble the proper combination of storage devices, media types, and network infrastructure to create an appropriate balance of performance, data accessibility, easy retrieval, and data reliability based on the relative value of the data. The data life-cycle management approach examines data capture, transfer, processing, analysis, storage, backup, retrieval, archiving, and deletion. In using this approach, you determine whether you need to store data online, near-online, or offline and when data should be deleted.

    In many ways, data life-cycle management represents the evolution of Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) techniques. Vendors first developed HSM products in the mid-1990s in the mainframe environment for distributed computing implementations. HSM offers several benefits. It reduces the total amount of expensive RAID disks an enterprise needs. Increasing storage use efficiency can improve performance. Moreover, you can perform some routine storage housekeeping tasks more easily with HSM products.

    In HSM implementations, data automatically moves from expensive hard disks to less expensive optical media or to tape according to specific policies. Users don't have to know that their data has migrated to a less costly storage media because HSM products track data movement and create paths for data retrieval. When an HSM product moves data, it creates a pointer to a file's new location. When a user or application retrieves a file that has moved down the storage hierarchy, the HSM product automatically returns the data to the top level of the storage infrastructure.

    Companies that use an HSM approach typically use two triggers to move data. The most common trigger is time. Data that workers haven't used within a specific time period moves to a less expensive storage device. The second trigger is capacity. As disks fill, data can move down the hierarchy.

    But several trends are forcing companies to rethink their migration strategies, fearing HSM might be too simplistic an approach. For example, many companies now want realtime access to their data for longer time periods. Consider how realtime access affects credit-card transactions. In the past, credit-card transactions were generally completed within a 120-day cycle. In the first 30 days, a transaction occurs and the customer is billed. In the second 30 days, the customer pays what the bill. The last 60 days covers late payments, billing disputes, and other anomalies. By the end of 120 days, most transactions are closed.

    But are the transactions closed? Because customers now have Web access to their credit-card accounts, they now want the ability to review their transactions for the past year, or perhaps longer. Even if customers don't use that data, it must be readily accessible or the value of the service is lost.

    Data life-cycle management gives administrators a framework to understand the value of different records and helps them build storage infrastructures that reflect those determinations. Data life-cycle management is an under-developed discipline; data-intensive government research laboratories are pioneering its use. But data life-cycle management might become an important skill for storage administrators.

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  • The Exchange Solutions You've Been Searching For!

  • Our popular IT Buyers' Directories (ITBDs) are online catalogs of the hottest vendor solutions around. Our latest ITBD highlights the solutions and services that will help you protect, migrate, and administer your Exchange server. Download your copy today at

  • Planning on Getting Certified? Make Sure to Pick Up Our New eBook!

  • "The Insider's Guide to IT Certification" eBook is hot off the presses and contains everything you need to know to help you save time and money while preparing for certification exams from Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and CompTIA and have a successful career in IT. Get your copy of the Insider's Guide today!



  • Simplified storage management, narrow backup windows, and better application performance are some of the benefits of Storage Area Networks (SANs). In "Storage Area Networks," which appeared in the June 2002 issue of Windows & .NET Magazine, Mark Weitz discusses the merits of SANs and compares this technology with Network Attached Storage (NAS).


  • Geeza is having trouble using Computer Associates' (CA's) BrightStor ARCserve 2000 to back up a Microsoft Exchange Server. To read more about the problem or offer your expertise, use the following link:


  • 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]



  • Promicro Systems introduced ProStore, a high-capacity RAID storage system that serves as an alternative to Fibre Channel or SCSI arrays. Available in 1TB, 2.5TB, or 5TB configurations, the ProStore system is priced at $4800, $9500, and $17,000, respectively. The ProStore uses 160GB Ultra ATA/133 drives from Maxtor, features transfer rates as fast as 133Mbps, and is based on Intel and dual Xeon 2.2GHz processors. Contact Promicro Systems at 858-391-1515 or 866-776-6427.


  • LXI announced that Tape Tracker 3.5, vaulting and reporting software that can consolidate tape information from multiple backup servers and network backup products, is certified for VERITAS Software's NetBackup 4.5. Tape Tracker can consolidate network backup application databases and centralize tape reporting and vault management in your heterogeneous environment. To benefit NetBackup, the software provides a central point of control for all tape management activities. Contact LXI at 972-444-2323 or 800-226-6526.

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