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Top data storage best practices include AI, object storage use

2023 featured both buzzwords and helpful technologies, but storage admins must distinguish between the two. These top tips can help enterprises store more and stay secure.

From generative AI and ChatGPT to quantum computing, there was a lot to absorb in tech in 2023. Some technologies are more helpful than others in storage, and some might just take more time to truly aid enterprises.

The top data storage best practices of the year reflect these current events and trends. Organizations should also keep an eye on a couple of older technologies and make sure they are implemented effectively.

Consider storage for AI and AI for storage

It felt like the year of AI.

Generative AI, as seen in the likes of OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google Bard, took off and seemed to make news every day. Since these platforms are new to the enterprise, admins should tread carefully.

First, AI workloads -- and not just those involving generative AI -- will need storage. So admins should prepare now, if they haven't already.

In a different way, AI could help in several areas with storage management and security. Vendors have started to add generative AI assistants to help provide answers to questions and issues. Admins can also use AI to proactively detect problems in storage, such as ransomware attacks.

As with many technologies and new trends, consider AI another tool in the toolbox, but not the only tool.

Prepare now for quantum computing

As tech expert Brien Posey wrote in his primer, "quantum computing has been steadily gaining momentum, so storage admins need to take note."

Quantum computing storage comes with several implications, both positive and negative. For example, reading in quantum bit storage ensures no one else has accessed the data. On the other side of the security spectrum, however, quantum computing could break complex encryption algorithms.

We're still a way off from enterprise use, but it's better for admins to be out in front of newer technologies such as AI and quantum computing than to play catch-up when they hit.

Take advantage of object storage

Object storage continues to trend up. If you're not using it, you should at least understand the benefits: capacity, scalability and flexibility, to name a few.

It can store large amounts of data and several different formats, tech consultant Paul Kirvan wrote in his tip article on both object storage advantages and disadvantages. The use of metadata helps admins with search. It's a "natural fit for cloud-based storage," he said.

Pain points, such as access latency, exist, but data storage best practices should include recognizing which data will fit best in this type of platform.

Understand cloud storage risks

Speaking of the cloud, it's important to understand the risks involved in storing data there.

Cloud storage security overall has improved, but admins can help themselves further by making sure data is encrypted at rest and in transit. Watch out for unauthorized access to data -- employing role-based access can help there. And as is the case with any kind of storage, ransomware is a concern, so make sure you have proper endpoint security and backup.

The recent trend of organizations bringing data back on premises from the cloud might be happening because of some of these risks. Following cloud data storage best practices will help with the safety and security of your platform, however.

Apply tape

The last data storage best practice is more old-school. While some admins and vendors are always ready to bury tape as a storage option, it can hold value in the enterprise.

Capacity and security -- two critical elements to storage -- are major reasons why tape still has a place. The latest LTO roadmap projects future tape cartridges to store more than a petabyte of compressed data. The current generation, LTO-9, provides 45 TB of compressed capacity, which is still a large amount as data volumes continue to escalate. Tape also has a natural air gap, which means it is protected against cyberattacks when not in use.

Tape storage is not right for all data, but is a definite fit for archiving, thanks to that capacity plus its durability.

Paul Crocetti is an executive editor at TechTarget Editorial. Since 2015, he has worked on TechTarget's Storage, Data Backup and Disaster Recovery sites.

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