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Understand your storage infrastructure management

Emerging technology, such as AI and software-based storage management systems, have simplified how IT manages its infrastructure. Explore the many components of modern management.

Storage infrastructure typically includes all storage devices, storage servers and network elements that intersect with the rest of the overall IT technology infrastructure. It's critical for administrators to keep storage infrastructure under control using proactive management techniques.

The storage infrastructure also includes the physical space, physical security, power and HVAC systems used by the storage equipment. Storage infrastructure management ensures the safe, secure and uninterrupted operation of all of these assets. 

Data storage physical infrastructure

Within a data center, admins must manage and maintain several key components to achieve optimum storage system performance.

They must secure the physical data center with access control to the area. The data center could include closed-circuit television for intruder identification; primary power supplies from the local utility, plus power distribution units to route power to each device; backup power systems to minimize system downtime; HVAC systems to keep the temperature and humidity at prescribed levels; emergency lighting; and fire detection and suppression systems.

It is also important to have at least two access/egress points in the facility, each protected by security systems. 

Chart of storage infrastructure management components

Data storage technology infrastructure

Storage servers connect storage devices to storage users and help plan, organize and manage storage resources. Storage can be on fixed disks, RAID equipment, solid-state disk storage, remote cloud-based storage and many other devices.

Storage infrastructure management tools must ensure storage resources are available to users and are secure with sufficient capacity and data speed.

Capacity management

Capacity management ensures that the storage infrastructure has ample capacity for applications, files, databases, utilities and other resources.

Capacity management applications monitor a variety of storage parameters -- such as active and static storage, numbers of storage transactions and changes in storage activity -- to provide data that administrators use to scale resources up or down. That data identifies when an organization needs additional storage so administrators can order and install equipment in time to use in production.

Performance management

If users must wait excessive periods of time to access or back up files, it could certainly compromise storage performance. Performance management activities examine processes associated with moving data between users and storage devices. They present various metrics that identify when performance does not meet expectations.

It may be necessary to examine the internal networks that employees use to connect into the IT environment. It may also be necessary to examine the SANs that connect storage devices with servers and other storage infrastructure devices. Storage administrators can adjust various devices to provide greater bandwidth. They also attempt to identify and remove roadblocks to storage performance, such as problems with storage devices and cyber attacks that sabotage resources.

Storage availability management

It can spell disaster for an organization if storage resources suddenly become unavailable. Ensuring that sufficient storage capacity is available, and can be quickly added on demand, is an important task for administrators. But it is not just a one-sided affair. The administrators must also proactively communicate with their storage users to keep abreast of their short- and long-term requirements. By taking a proactive approach to storage, administrators can prepare for unplanned requirements. 

It is also important to be on top of changes to the business -- perhaps a merger or acquisition, for instance. These could alter storage requirements. From that point, it is a matter of analyzing the likely storage capacity requirements and arranging with the primary storage supplier to have resources readily available. When cloud storage is part of the mix, the administrators must also be in regular touch with the cloud vendors to ensure that resources can be available quickly.

Storage access management

An important part of availability is access management, which ensures that employees who need storage resources can access them on demand. This is often part of the overall access security approach taken by the organization. It can include the use of multifactor authentication for access verification, among other resources.

A user's profile can specify the storage resources available to that particular user. Monitor user access activity for storage capacity planning.

Operations management

Storage operations management is far more automated than in previous decades, which makes storage administrators' jobs easier but no less important. The advent of AI helps administrators better anticipate storage capacity changes based on an analysis of historical trends and current intelligence. And with so many storage options available -- both on site and cloud-based -- automated storage capacity management has become an essential tool for storage administrators.

Software-based storage technology makes it possible to see the entire storage infrastructure -- from all corners -- which helps administrators manage the entire storage portfolio. And considering that storage today is typically added as an automated service, storage resources can be parceled out to where they are needed most. If service-level agreements are part of storage infrastructure management, automation makes it easier to meet the performance requirements

Storage management for disaster recovery

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees began to work remotely, access to storage capacity became increasingly essential as part of remote access to IT resources. Storage administrators had to become keenly aware of who was working remotely and thereby monitor their activity and storage usage to be prepared for changes.

Availability of cloud-based storage has become an important tool for disaster recovery, as it can serve as primary as well as backup storage for critical systems, files, databases and other mission-critical assets. Software-based storage capacity management tools typically include disaster recovery components so that administrators and the technology DR team can be fully prepared to make emergency storage available if the primary suddenly is unavailable. 

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