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DOES CLOUD COMPUTING THREATEN BRICKS AND MORTAR DATA CENTRES?

Where do you store all your business data? Probably on a server and an external hard drive or two. But what if you’ve got loads of data? Servers and external drives may serve as storage facilities but they don’t really facilitate data management or make data easy to access. Data centres offer convenient storage and management solutions that are flexible enough to meet your needs. They use the latest hardware, offer excellent security, and guarantee minimal downtime.

Security at data centres operates on two levels:

  • Physical security: This entails security guards, alarm systems, and CCTV, cooling systems, and fire protection, etc.
  • Data security: This entails things like firewalls, virus and malware protection, and encryption and generators that will keep power up and running in the event of a power failure.

According to Wikipedia, the IT industry is advancing so quickly that bricks and mortar data centres are struggling to keep up with evolving technology and data needs. Gartner, apparently, says that data centres that are more than seven years old are already obsolete. Unfortunately, the International Data Corporation says that the average age of data centres around the world is nine years old.

In addition to the problem of rapidly evolving hardware and software, obsolescence can be attributed to limited storage capacity. Even vast data centres have limited physical storage capacity. But the cloud – the cloud offers virtually limitless storage.

 

Does the cloud eliminate the need for data centres?

No, it doesn’t. This is the opinion of VMware, which calls itself a ‘next-generation data centre’ as it is ‘optimised for the cloud era’. It offers the best of software-defined data centres and virtual data centres. It entails managing increasing amounts of virtual data across all platforms and applications and enhancing data security and support in a standardised, holistic and resilient manner.

Wikipedia also suggests that data centres will remain relevant, provided they embrace the cloud computing revolution. The authors call the process ‘data centre transformation’, which is descriptive enough. It involves:

  • Standardisation/consolidation: During the step data centres receive hardware and software upgrades and the tools and networks used are standardised.
  • Virtualisation: Much of the standard data centre equipment will be replaced by virtualisation technology, which will reduce operational expenses and increase energy efficiency.
  • Automation: This will apply to things like configuration, release management, compliance and patches.
  • Security: According to Wikipedia, the security systems for modern data centres are pretty much the same for more traditional centres, as they include physical, network, data and user security.

Cloud computing may seem like it’s at odds with the data storage and management methods used by traditional data centres, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It will take some adapting but there is no reason why data centres can’t incorporate all the benefits of the cloud in their service offerings.

 

A LOOK AT DATA STORAGE

We live in a data-centric world; we’re all saving photos, music, videos, contact details, and personal and business documents on storage devices that range from itty bitty flash drives to mega terabyte hard drives. Even the cloud comes into the picture.

For most of us, a USB will fulfil our personal data storage needs. But it’s not as simple as you might think. If you really want to get into it, there are three types of USBs to choose from.

 

1. Single layer cell (SLC)

SLC flash drives save one bit of data per cell. This results in greater cell endurance, faster transfer speeds and lower power consumption than other flash drives. A drawback is that SLC flash drives are more expensive than other types.

2. Multi-layer cell (MLC)

With MLC flash drives two bits of data is stored in a single cell, meaning that it can store double the amount of data as an SLC drive. The drawbacks are that the cells aren’t as durable as SLC cells, the transfer speeds are slower and they are more power hungry. However, they are cheaper than SLCs.

3. Triple layer cell (TLC)

TLC flash drives store three bits of data on a single cell. This means that their endurance is lower and their transfer speeds are even slower than that of MLC drives. There is also a greater chance of them failing than both the SLC and MLC flash drives. As a result TLCs are the cheapest type of flash drives available.

What about those of us who need lots of storage, like 10 terabytes or more? Well, then RAID is the way to go.

What is RAID?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Very basically, what it does is take a number of hard drives and connect them in such a way that they act as a single drive, so that there are extra copies of data in case some is lost. The three main types of RAIDare RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 5.

 

RAID 0

RAID 0 should not be used for any critical system as a fraction of the file is written over multiple disks, which means that if one drive fails the whole array is lost. Benefits are faster read/write times.

RAID 1

RAID 1 can be used for a critical system because if one disk fails, you have another to replace it with. This is because it works by mirroring data on redundant disks. As a result, you don’t get as much storage space as you would with RAID 0, but at least you have peace of mind.

RAID 5

In the case of RAID 5, if one drive fails the rest do not, although they run at a slowed rate. Also, if one drive fails you can use the information on the active drives to recover the data you lost.

It must be noted that RAID Recovery is considered the most complex form of data recovery, which is why you should only ever take your RAID problems to fully qualified and reputable data recovery experts. Take the time to investigate the companies operating in your area. Don’t be put off by small-scale operations, but don’t dismiss international specialists that have branches as far afield as Brisbane, Italy and Los Angeles, either.