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Storage Management

Vangie Beal
Last Updated May 24, 2021 7:56 am

The term storage management encompasses the technologies and processes organizations use to maximize or improve the performance of their data storage resources. It is a broad category that includes virtualization, replication, mirroring, security, compression, traffic analysis, process automation, storage provisioning and related techniques.

By some estimates, the amount of digital information stored in the world’s computer systems is doubling every year. As a result, organizations feel constant pressure to expand their storage capacity. However, doubling a company’s storage capacity every year is an expensive proposition. In order to reduce some of those costs and improve the capabilities and security of their storage solutions, organizations turn to a variety of storage management solutions.

Storage Management Benefits

Many storage management technologies, like storage virtualization, deduplication and compression, allow companies to better utilize their existing storage. The benefits of these approaches include lower costs — both the one-time capital expenses associated with storage devices and the ongoing operational costs for maintaining those devices.

Most storage management techniques also simplify the management of storage networks and devices. That can allow companies to save time and even reduce the number of IT workers needed to maintain their storage systems, which in turn, also reduces overall storage operating costs.

Storage management can also help improve a data center’s performance. For example, compression and technology can enable faster I/Os, and automatic storage provisioning can speed the process of assigning storage resources to various applications.

In addition, virtualization and automation technologies can help an organization improve its agility. These storage management techniques make it possible to reassign storage capacity quickly as business needs change, reducing wasted space and improving a company’s ability to respond to evolving market conditions.

Finally, many storage management technologies, such as replication, mirroring and security, can help a data center improve its reliability and availability. These techniques are often particularly important for backup and archive storage, although they also apply to primary storage. IT departments often turn to these technologies for help in meeting SLAs or achieving compliance goals.

Storage Management: Related Terms

Storage management is very closely related to Storage Resource Management (SRM). SRM often refers particularly to software used to manage storage networks and devices. By contrast, the term “storage management” can refer to devices and processes, as well as actual software. In addition, SRM usually refers specifically to software for allocating storage capacity based on company policies and ongoing events. It may include asset management, charge back, capacity management, configuration management, data and media migration, event management, performance and availability management, policy management, quota management, and media management capabilities. In short, SRM is a subset of storage management; however, the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Storage management is also closely associated with networked storage solutions, such as storage area networks (SANs) and network-attached storage (NAS) devices. Because using SAN and NAS devices is more complicated than using direct-attached storage (DAS), many organizations deploy SRM software when they deploy their storage networking environments. However, storage management techniques like replication, mirroring, security, compression and others can be utilized with DAS devices as well as with SANs and NAS arrays.

Storage management is often used in virtualized or cloud computing environments.

Storage Management Implementation

Because storage management is such a broad category, it’s difficult to provide detailed instructions on how to install or how to use storage management technologies. In general, storage management technology can be deployed as software or it can be included in a hardware device. Storage management techniques can be applied to primary, backup or archived storage. Deployment and implementation procedures will vary widely depending on the type of storage management selected and the vendor. In addition, the skills and training of storage administrators and other personnel add another level to an organization’s storage management capabilities.

Storage Management Technology

The primary organization involved in establishing storage management standards is the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). It has put forth several important storage specifications, including the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) and the Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI). SMI-S defines the attributes of storage hardware, such as Fibre Channel switches, Fibre Channel and iSCI arrays, NAS devices, tape libraries and host profiles. It also addresses storage management software issues, such as configuration discovery, provisioning and trending, security, asset management, compliance and cost management, event management and data protection. The CDMI specification provides standards for cloud storage services, enabling interoperability among various storage management solutions.

The work of the SNIA builds on previous work done by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), which has also been involved in establishing storage management standards.