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Storage Arrays

Updated: September 30, 2017

Sun Storage ArrayThe more a business grows, the more data it produces and maintains, which means storage arrays will eventually become a necessity. At first, when there are only a few people working for the company, it's possible to tie everyone to a single, large hard drive and pull data from it. It's not the fastest solution, but it can work when there aren't many people involved. Before long, though, the business will need specialized hardware to handle data writing and protection. This should be considered an investment, however, because adding the hardware will boost productivity significantly, and ensure there is a safety net in place in case the worst happens. What is the purpose of storage arrays? Simply put, this equipment consists of a series of disks housed in a chassis built for the purpose of keeping them safe and operating at peak capacity. This system groups the disks together so that they form larger units, which means they can logically approach data reading and writing with little drop in performance. So, a series of 100 GB disks can operate like a single disk several hundred GB in size, writing huge swaths of data that can be quickly retrieved when needed. The system controller can also read or write from multiple disks at once, so it can handle a greater number of data transfers and requests from users all over the network. This is the essential element of the system, as multiple people accessing a single large disk, or disks not maintained by a controller can bring the system to a screeching halt. So, not only does this hardware offer a deep reservoir to place the data, it makes it possible to access it in an expeditious manner. Another essential function of storage arrays is the data protection they offer. As data is one of the company's most important assets, security is a top priority, and because these systems are private, they are much easier to secure. And with RAID protection, a company won't have to worry about the stability of their data. Hardware or software-based RAID comes in many varieties, but its primary purpose is to improve data management or provide redundancy. With some forms of RAID, the data is written to multiple disks simultaneously, so if one disk fails, the data can be retrieved from another disk seamlessly. With RAID, it's even possible to weather two disk failures at once. There are multiple brands that offer excellent storage arrays, though Hitachi, NetApp and EMC are the current leading brands. All three brands can handle hundreds of drives while maintaining peak performance, which is enough for even big data applications, such as institutions that run simulations or maintain real-time financial data. These brands also provide hot-swappable capabilities, so drives can be removed and plugged in without having to bring the system down. And like network servers, storage arrays are available in a refurbished option. Refurbished hardware offers the same reliability and lifespan that newer models offer, but at a greatly reduced cost and with custom features the business requires. If a server is the brains of the operation, these systems are its heart, channeling data where it needs to go and ensuring it is managed with maximum efficiency.