6 keys to data storage

By Michelle McNickle
02:21 PM

Data storage continues to be a concern for health IT professionals nationwide. Managing it, backing it up and integrating it into other applications remain daunting issues, and all the while, unstructured file data, like videos and clinical images, continue to grow. 

“These and other traditional problems surrounding data storage management are not foreign to healthcare IT organizations,” said Mariano Maluf, CTO at Atlanta-based GNAX. “As a matter of fact, and due to unique attributes, compliance regulations, and technical requirements, some of those can actually get worse.”

But hope isn’t lost when it comes to effective data storage practices. According to Maluf, knowing the scope of data storage in today’s environment is key when considering your options. With that said, consider these six keys to data storage: 

1. Recognize its evolution. Maluf said Moore’s Law is well known within the industry and can be applied to the data storage domain instead of just the evolution of integrated processing circuits. He explained that Moore predicted the number of transistors on a chip would double about every two years: a trend that has remained throughout the past several decades and is shifting innovation from dimension and scale to structure and core materials. “The application of this popular principle in the data storage domain (current rate of hard disk capacity is similar to the transistor count growth) isn’t equally visible, but it’s getting more attention these days,” said Maluf. “This is because of a combination of factors, like the unprecedented growth of unstructured data, coupled with fundamental changes in data transport, access, and storage mechanisms.” Maluf continued by saying we’re producing more data than ever before. “We want to consume it in real time, in a pervasive manner, and from a variety of devices.” 

[See also: Data farming used to improve nursing capacity.]

2. Find a reliable vendor. Jesse Lipson, CEO of ShareFile, added that as more businesses look to cloud-based services, the ability of data back-up and transfer companies to ensure a crash or data loss doesn’t occur is vital. “In the case of healthcare, a cloud-based storage vendor must not only be reliable, but also store information in a manner that meets all of the disclosure and security compliance requirements,” he said. “This shift to cloud-based SaaS services is continuous, and as more businesses move traditional IT services out of house, support offerings of cloud companies is a significant factor for consideration.”

3. Note its growth rate versus storage issues. Maluf said that in general, the storage cost versus capacity ratio has improved. “These elements present an interesting dichotomy,” he said. “On one hand, we have this huge torrent of data, this growing need for capacity. But on the other hand, we see lower costs for storage, so it shouldn’t be that big of a problem, right?” Well, not quite, according to Maluf. He said a collection of inefficient storage architectures, mixed with uncontrolled data growth, can lead to significant issues in managing this piece of the IT infrastructure puzzle. “It’s no secret data storage had to evolve from being a peripheral element to a critical component of modern data center infrastructures,” Maluf said. “In some cases, that caused wounds in data center architectures that may have not been updated.  And in those instances, some issues were more painful.” He continued by saying there’s also the increased financial pressure to control CapEx and OpEx costs, so significantly and continually increasing the storage budget can’t be a viable, long-term solution. “At the same time, as more data is generated, security and protection can become more complex, especially as we try to store and share data, both in premises and in the cloud.”

Continued on the next page. 

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