Installing a vendor neutral archive (VNA) is a lot of work, but don’t make it any harder than it has to be. Mark Watts, CRA, Associate Vice President of Utah-based medical technology company, Novarad, has some advice for any facility looking to make the change.
1. It’s Time for a Change
Ultimately, some organizations will decide that changing storage methods is appropriate. For example, server sprawl can drive companies from a basic file server architecture to a shared SAN or NAS (network attached storage) system, Watts said. Indications that a change is needed include current storage methods impacting availability, performance, and recovery, which can have financial or operational implications.According to Watts, three vectors taken together will dictate that a change is needed: (1) understanding application requirements and data growth potential, data governance issues, and advances in storage technology; (2) understanding how to best serve application requirements while protecting corporate data; and (3) ensuring compliance mandates are met.“Switching storage methods is not an easy decision. We’re at a tipping point in storage mechanisms. Previously, advances were small. Now, we have the massive impact of intelligent storage,” Watts said. “This promises latency, power usage, and other benefits. Highly time-dependent data sets should already be moving toward intelligent storage.”“Over time, all storage workloads will likely follow,” Watts continued. “Currently, not all VNA [storage] is created equal, so the choice of workloads must be driven by business need, not just a feeling that VNA is the way forward.”
Increasingly, storage management also involves major decisions around cloud
computing, including determining which types of data and storage are well-suited to move to the cloud. Solid options generally include second-tier storage and archive and backup data. The first big move to the cloud was for backup and data protection, or data organizations don’t need to access quickly or frequently. Rarely accessed data also makes sense because cloud providers charge for data ingest and retrieval and capacity, Watts said. Similarly, simply moving most of an organization’s data to the cloud may not make sense for reasons concerning data control, security, and costs.
Recent Enterprise Strategy Group research shows a high percentage of responding organizations have some type of data they prohibit from cloud storage due to reasons related to concerns about hackers, how data is protected, where it’s stored, and compliance.“Despite the buzz, cloud isn’t always the cheapest route,” Watts said. “Many firms started with cloud, and then due to ongoing costs as the scale of data grew and ingress and egress charges applied, it became too costly to maintain data/workload in the cloud.”
“The latter is a big issue,” Watts stated. “Many healthcare providers have rules regarding where certain types of information can be stored.”
2. The Great Migration
If an organization decides to move to a new storage method, migrating data to the new system can be a lengthy, arduous process that entails months of planning and project management beforehand. Watts said that an organization he recently spoke with, for example, was 18 months into a storage migration that entailed migrating Tier 1 apps to a new storage platform.
“Of course, the pain depends on the amount of data being moved and whether or not it needs to be available during migration,” Watts continued. “If all you have is one bit of data, then it’s almost instantaneous. If a few zettabytes, then expect a few years.”
Factors affecting the length of migration include whether it will occur on LAN (local-area network) or WAN (wide-area network), whether an intermediary data storage device is used to help move data when WAN is involved, whether data is file- or object-based, and whether there will be additional needs in synchronizing ongoing transactional data that’s created between the start of the move and initial completion.
According to Watts, Novarad’s system lets organizations send a shelf of disk drives containing data to seed the cloud, avoiding data migration “over the wire.”
“Other providers can help map and model file migrations, but in a file world, you need to make sure that user permissions, data protection relationships, and things like that get carried over. It can get pretty complex.”