Considering how ubiquitous data storage is, one might think no serious challenges exist for such a key part of most organizations.
However, there are several data storage issues, including some that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with these challenges.
1. Finding experienced data storage professionals post-pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic decimated many IT departments because of staff reductions due to illness or business slowdowns. It's possible to reassign data storage duties to others in the department. However, proceed with caution: An overall loss of staff could mean that storage must compete with other IT functions for personnel.
It's also important to find employees who have a solid background with no security issues. Staffing is often an issue when organizations use third-party data storage services, such as cloud-based storage. Customers probably won't know the people who work with their data and applications, which presents potential security concerns.
2. Security to protect stored data
Increasing cases of cybersecurity breaches, particularly with ransomware, create data storage issues for IT department leadership. While network perimeter security is the first line of defense for data storage security, the potential always exists that employees with sufficient privileges could access secure data, use it, and possibly corrupt or destroy it. Encryption for data at rest and in transit is an important strategy to keep critical data safe.
3. Choosing the right storage hardware
For on-site data storage, IT needs equipment racks, along with the necessary servers, storage devices, power systems, network connectivity and a suitable operating environment. IT also needs adequate floor space for the storage equipment rack and, likely, a raised floor. Managed data storage, especially using the cloud, can reduce or eliminate the need for hardware infrastructure and save money on floor space.
4. Choosing the right storage software
Many data storage products and services are available, which can be overwhelming. These products can be applications resident in server operating systems, standalone storage applications, and even freeware that can handle small to medium storage requirements at a lower cost. The key is to know current and longer-term storage requirements, along with corollary activities such as data archiving and data recovery.
5. Data protection and data management
The principal goal for data storage is to be able to access the data when needed, without fear that the data has somehow been altered, deleted, corrupted or stolen. To alleviate these data storage issues, data protection and management software applications ensure that stored data will be available in its original form when needed. And if an organization will not access data for a while, it can use an archive for future retrieval, such as for e-discovery required by litigation. Further, if IT no longer requires data, or it has been eclipsed by newer data versions, various applications can help destroy the data -- and even the storage device.
6. Resource scalability
Storage media must change to accommodate new requirements. Storage components must be able to scale upward or downward. IT could increase capacity by adding circuit boards to servers, more servers or standalone storage devices, or storage through an alternate data center or third-party managed storage, such as in the cloud. Ease of scale is an important benefit of third-party storage, with no customer investments for additional racks, floor space, storage devices or software.
7. Managing and optimizing costs
Storage costs can be a large portion of an IT department budget. The cloud has become more popular because it can reduce or eliminate key costs. An organization that uses the cloud may need less equipment, floor space, power and staff than one that primarily uses on-site storage.
8. Data accessibility in a disaster situation
Ensure that the organization can quickly and securely recover data and technology resources needed to run the business following the onset of a disruptive event. Secure data storage is increasingly important in the event of security breaches, especially ransomware attacks.
9. Data storage testing
Failure to regularly test and verify that IT properly stores data could cause problems in a real disaster event. Testing helps identify glitches or bugs in any of the storage infrastructure. It enables the chance to fix data storage issues before they turn into a major disaster.
10. Data storage patching
Patching is one of the most important IT activities, as it ensures that all infrastructure elements run optimally and use the most current software releases. Failure to keep data storage infrastructure elements properly patched could result in a system failure or interruption at a highly inopportune time.