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Top 10 tips for small business data storage in 2010

Here's a look at the top 10 SMB storage tips from 2010. Learn about primary storage data reduction techniques, the pros and cons of cloud storage for SMBs and more.

Small business data storage can be a challenge because many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often have small budgets and small staffs, but require the same data storage technologies as larger enterprises to run their businesses. Because of this, many vendors cater to the SMB market and offer enterprise data storage technologies at the SMB level. But these small business data storage technologies are always changing. According to Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at The Storage IO Group, "Between 2009 and 2010, there has been an increased awareness and respect for the lower end of the SMB, also referred to as the small office, that might only have a few servers and anywhere from a couple terabytes to a dozen or more terabytes of storage. Consequently, there is more focus with some solutions moving up-market while others move down into the mid- to lower-end SMB."

Schulz also pointed out several hot technologies in the small business data storage space, including disk-to-disk (D2D) backup using data deduplication, cloud or managed services-based backup and virtual server support. Also, SMBs now have more of an "awareness for applying different tools to various problems ranging from archiving, compression, dedupe and thin provisioning among others," said Schulz.

To help you learn more about these trends and hot technologies in small business data storage, we've compiled the top 10 tips on SMB data storage from 2010. Get the scoop on primary storage data reduction techniques, data storage virtualization benefits for SMBs, the pros and cons of cloud data storage services for SMBs, NAS devices, capacity planning, iSCSI SANs and more.

TIP #1-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Primary storage data reduction techniques
Reducing your primary data storage can cut costs, save space in your environment and reduce the amount of equipment you need for your physical storage. Find out what primary storage reduction techniques work best for small businesses. Choose from data deduplication technology, data compression, content-aware compression and source-level post-processing data reduction. Read the tip on primary storage data reduction techniques.

TIP #2-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Data storage virtualization benefits for small businesses
With storage virtualization, several storage operations can be maintained and managed on a smaller schedule and with fewer management tasks. However, many data storage professionals think that there are no affordable virtualization solutions available to SMBs, yet there are many low-cost virtualization options that SMBs can implement in their environments. This tip looks at three different types of storage virtualization attainable for SMBs: NAS virtualization, block/SAN storage virtualization and iSCSI-clustered storage. Find out how these virtualization options work, and the pros and cons of data storage virtualization for small businesses.

TIP #3-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cloud data storage services for smaller businesses: The pros and cons
Cloud data storage is having a hard time catching on in the storage industry for a few reasons: It's a new concept, and users have many questions about the cost and how the technology works. This tip looks at some of the advantages of cloud storage -- it's convenient, it's low maintenance, it's easily expandable and it has good security. However, there are several concerns with could data storage, too. It may not be cost effective, you have less control over your data, more latency issues arise, and in order for it to work, you need WAN bandwidth. Read more about the pros and cons of cloud data storage services for SMBs.

TIP #4-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tape vs. disk backup: Get the best of both worlds with D2D2T
When it comes to data backup and recovery, many SMBs think they have to choose between disk or tape storage. While both can be viable solutions, a better approach is to combine the two in one integrated backup system. In this tip, learn about tape vs. disk backup, and you can get the best of both with disk disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) backup.

TIP #5-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Affordable shared storage options for VMware vSphere
You can use VMware vSphere without a shared storage device, but certain features in vSphere require a virtual machine that resides on a shared storage device. This tip looks at the different shared storage devices that are available and affordable to SMBs including, Data Robotics Inc.'s Drobo, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s HP StorageWorks X1000 series, Iomega, Netgear ReadyNAS, QNAP Systems Inc., Synology and Thecus Tech Corp. Compare these shared storage devices, and find out how to decide which shared storage option for VMware vSphere is right for your SMB.

TIP #6-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Data storage management strategies: Managing logical unit numbers (LUNs)
LUNs are chunks of virtualized storage that are treated as disks, and they're often a standard in most data storage management software. Although LUNs are often associated with helping out large enterprises, they are also used to help data management in small business environments. In this tip, find out how LUNs are used in an SMB environment, the different features of a LUN and how to figure out what type of LUN is best for your small business environment. Read more about managing logical unit numbers.

TIP #7-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adding a NAS device to your data storage environment: A checklist for smaller businesses
Network-attached storage (NAS) devices are good for SMB data storage environments. But small businesses need to plan carefully and consider their options in order to get the most out of their NAS devices. Read our checklist for buying a NAS device and more in this tip.

TIP #8-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Data storage capacity planning: How to estimate your storage requirements
Estimating the amount of capacity you have in your data storage can be challenging and time-consuming, but it doesn't have to be. Ask yourself what tools you have to help you, what your present data storage requirements are, how fast your data storage needs are growing, if you plan on any expansions in the near future, and where you can potentially save capacity in your system. Answering these question about storage capacity planning will make it easier to estimate your storage requirements.

TIP #9-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

iSCSI storage area networks explained
The debate between Fibre Channel (FC) and iSCSI SANs still exists today. iSCSI SANS are similar in functionality to Fibre Channel, but iSCSI isn't manually determined; it piggybacks on TCP/IP non-deterministic automated discovery, routing and switching. Find out more about the features of an iSCSI storage area network, and why it can be a good choice for a small business storage environment.

TIP #10-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Six tips for buying a used storage system
Buying a used storage system can save a small business a lot of money, but like anything used, it can come with problems. This tip provides small businesses with a list of important questions to answer before implementing a used storage system in their data storage space. Read about these six questions and what to look out for when purchasing a used storage system.

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