Water, Data and Storage Analogy

Wednesday Oct 28th 2015 by Greg Schulz

What do water, data, and storage have in common?

Besides being taken for granted and all of us being dependent on them, several other similarities exist between water, data, and storage.

Data, like water, can move or be dormant, can be warm and active, or cold, frozen and inactive. Data, like water, can exist in clouds, resulting in storms that – if not properly prepared for – can cause problems. Another similarity is that water will tend to flow and seek its level filling up space, while data can involve a seek on an HDD in addition to filling up space. As water flows downstream it tends to increase in volume as tributaries or streams adding to the volume in lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams.

Data streams flow into data ponds, data pools (or storage pools), data lakes or seas resulting in oceans of information. On a side note, water can be carried, same with data. For example, at recent EMCworld’s events (data and storage focus) there were activities to raise awareness of water management by volunteering to carry containers of water for charity. By the way, water gets carried in buckets or containers, data can also be stored in buckets and containers – granted not the same physical ones used for water.

While flowing downstream, water also tends to accumulate overhead debris, similar to how data, as it flows downstream, accumulates overhead in terms of protection copies for backup, BC, BR, and distaster recovery. In other words, water needs to be filtered, so too does data, including protection against various physical or logical and security threats.

Note that some organizations’ business is searching for energy or minerals in or under the water that, in turn, results in large amounts of data being collected and stored on storage. In other words, some companies collect oceans of data and information while exploring what’s in and under the various seas of water.

Data can be managed via DAMs such as Digital Asset Managers or, in the case of water, low or high structures constructed via different materials. Speaking of dams, they can be used to manage water to prevent flooding or produce energy to power data centers that house data storage, servers, network and other technologies. There are different techniques, technologies and tiers for managing and storing water, from ponds, lakes, reservoirs, aquifers to above and below ground tanks. Likewise, there are different technology, tiers and techniques for storing data.

Other similarities and dependencies include: water is used for cooling habitats that house technologies in data centers, as well as cooling people on hot days. Data, like water, can be compressed, however while data can be re-hydrated, water is usually used to rehydrate other things that have been hydrated.

Like water, for some the focus is on using less or avoidance similar to approaches that manage storage by encouraging or preventing more data being created or stored. On the other hand, being smarter by using water more effectively, to recycle, optimize usage, find new sources (along with conservation) has a similarity with data and storage. That similarity: instead of preventing more data from being created and stored, find ways to reduce the overhead and data footprint impact.

Solutions include data footprint reduction (DFR) techniques such as:

·  Archiving (active and inactive, not just for compliance)

·  Backup and data protection (e.g. rethink retention, frequency, full vs. partial copies)

·  Cleanup, compression, and consolation

·  Dedupe along with some data management (cleanup, delete)

·  Storage tiering, thin provisioning, space saving snapshots

·  Revisiting RAID, Replication and Erasure coding configurations among others

Likewise, leveraging intelligent power management to find a balance between performance and energy consumption, in contrast with sleeping devices that prevent or inhibit productivity.

What this all means

Besides taking a break from more technical topical trending talk or discussions, step back or pause for a moment and think about how we take water, data and storage for granted. I’m sure you can think of many more similarities, dependencies or analogies. Hopefully, that will also trigger thoughts of thinking outside the traditional storage box (physical, virtual or cloud) on how to be more productive and effective vs. simply focus on efficiency utilization.

We might take water, data and storage for granted, yet they each need to be managed, protected, preserved and served. Servers utilize storage to support applications for managing water; water is used for cooling and powering storage, not to mention for making coffee for those who take care of IT resources.

When you hear about data lakes, ponds or pools, keep in mind that there are also data streams, all of which need to be managed to prevent the flood of data from overwhelming you.

Ok, nuff said, for now…

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