Backup: Public Enemy No. 1

Respondents to our survey on which storage challenges are most pressing in today's IT shops voted backup windows, lack of storage management tools and affordable DR, in that order

Reducing the time it takes to back up the ever-increasing amount of data being generated today is no joke, especially when you are still there doing it at the weekend.

SearchStorage.com users agree. One hundred of our members voted in a recent poll on the site, and 25% chose reducing backup windows as the most pressing issue at their company.

It's a tricky problem as backup is such an important task, but it's a job akin to taking out the garbage. It has to be done but boy does it stink and nobody wants to do it. Keeping track of data in today's world of Sarbanes Oxley and security threats that threaten to wipe out everything isn't easy and users voted with their feet on this one.

Top storage headaches

1) Reducing backup window
2) Lack of good mgt. tools
3) Affordable DR plans
4) Short staffed
5) Vendor integration
6) Avoiding SAN disruptions
7) Tiered implementation
8) Getting good deals

(Results based on recent poll of 100 storage readers)

The second biggest challenge, at 20%, was a lack of good management tools. This one keeps cropping up, and it's easy to see why. There's a ton of point products out there that manage a single task, and then there's a few systems management offerings, like those from Computer Associates or Tivoli Systems Inc. that lock you in to a single vendor. But there isn't a single open platform through which to integrate all the products that users are trying to manage. So they end up with 10 or even 20 different pieces of software just to manage storage.

Third on the list of gripes was creating a disaster recovery plan that won't break the bank. Slowly but surely vendors are realizing that DR isn't just for the Fortune 500, and they are beginning to tailor their offerings for companies that are budget conscious. There's no sign of EMC dropping its prices on that front just yet, however. Its SRDF (Symmetrix Remote Data Facility) can cost from $60,000 to $150,000, and it can only be purchased with a Symmetrix storage array, which costs anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars. Cha Ching!

Being short staffed was the next biggest bone of contention in storage shops around the country. That's no surprise with all the job cuts in the past couple of years, but it's worrisome to hear when vendors are constantly touting that their products enable users to do more with less.

Fifth on the list was making devices from different vendors work together. The SMI-S standard under the umbrella of the SNIA should ease this pain, but it's a long and drawn-out process, so no quick fix for this one.

Avoiding disruptions to the SAN when making changes to it came in next at 7%, and choosing a nearline storage implementation grabbed a measly 4% share of votes. The latter is interesting because tiered storage is all the rage from a vendor marketing standpoint, but according to our voters, it's not high on their list of problems right now. And last of all, only two respondents voted that getting a good deal from their vendors was a problem. Some good news there, at least!

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