Making space

As information storage becomes more critical to organisations, IT managers are rising to the complex task with solutions and innovative practices.

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By  Sean Robson Published  September 13, 2008

As information storage becomes more critical to organisations, IT managers are rising to the complex task with solutions and innovative practices.

The Middle East is a region where explosive growth is almost a given and nowhere is this more apparent than in the data that is being created in the enterprise space.

IT managers, already under fire from all angles, are staring the issue of storage in the datacentre right in the face and they dare not blink. A host of new technologies and solutions are at hand, but before they begin acquiring and implementing them they will need to take a close look at their current circumstances.

Virtualisation is very important for the region as it provides much needed space and data can be easily replicated for disaster recovery. The technology also enables data to be centrally managed.

"We need to examine things from two separate views, in terms of new datacentres and then in terms of existing datacentres. Previously the attitude had generally been one of acquiring a lot of space, purchasing servers and storage, installing the apps and seeing what happened. However, many large enterprises are proving more receptive to the idea of strategic planning," says Omar Dajani, senior manager, systems engineering at Symantec.

Nevertheless, Dajani continues to observe enterprises that still struggle with planning for capacity requirements and fail to anticipate the large amounts of data that they would be required to store or the rate at which the data increases.

Tony Ward, general manager and sales director MENA and Turkey, Hitachi Data Systems agrees in part with Dajani. "Its improving as Middle East enterprises begin to invest in upgrading and developing the storage systems within their datacentres. CIOs are recognising the need for advanced storage solutions."

Although vendors are uniquely placed to influence the storage environments of the region, it is the CIOs and IT managers who are on the front lines of the battle to manage data.

"It's obvious that robust storage is critical to any organisation. The exploding growth and increasing compliance requirements are big challenges. An added challenge is the cost of connectivity in the region. The high cost makes it very expensive for your average organisation to back-up online or mirror its data to a disaster recovery site," says Bassem Aboukhater, regional IT director, Leo Burnett.

"We are being faced with growing data sizes and the failure of businesses to predict and inform IT departments about the data type, usage and the size they will have to cope with. Storage manufacturers are also changing the roadmap for the support of disk enclosures and supported disk types, which is creating yet another problem," weighs in Sujin Balakumaran, IT manager at Waha Capital in Abu Dhabi.

The status quo

Users are making the most of the plethora of choices now available to them, as the battle for storage intensifies in the region.

"We've recently implemented Symantec Net Backup and Enterprise Vault, which are helping us tremendously with policy based archiving and as an integrated back-up solution. De-duplication keeps the utilisation rate high. I also make use of iSCSI for a handful of SAN connected servers," describes Aboukhater.

"We have moved to centralise our storage solution in the datacentre for our own enterprise use. We use a Hitachi network solution for our Linux environment and an HP solution for the enterprise environment," says Mohammed Sabunchi, director of IT infrastructure, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

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