MANILA, Philippines — With companies and their respective employees increasingly going digital, IT departments are forced to keep up with the sudden influx of data –also known as Big Data — that they need to store, putting pressure on storage requirements in the data center.
In addition, with consumer-facing companies such as Google, Apple, and Dropbox launching their respective cloud-based storage services, the need for enterprises and service providers to maximize utilization of their storage systems is reaching an all-time high.
“Companies are faced with limited resources and budgets, but at the same time they are faced with higher growth in digital information,” said Ronnie Latinazo, country manager at EMC Philippines, one of the world’s biggest information infrastructure providers.
According to Latinazo, because of this dilemma, companies are forced to “look for new ways” to address their storage woes. Throwing more storage capacity into the pile just isn’t working anymore, as these only add cost but do not solve their data woes.
One such way Philippine companies are employing is the deployment of Flash-based storage technology, a significantly faster and more efficient form of storage that, until recently, has been identified as expensive.
The EMC executive said Flash-based technologies provide performance improvements of eight to ten times faster data transfers, saving companies time and resources when processing data.
“The adoption of Flash technology increases as the price goes down. Right now, it’s becoming more common,” Latinazo observed.
Despite this fact, Latinazo said their mid-tier unified storage offering remains to be the most popular among local companies, considering that not many firms in the country have that many employees to begin with.
“If you look at the Philippine market, it’s really a market for the unified storage, our VNX line of storage systems,” he said. “Here, we sell less of the high-end systems and more of the mid-tier ones.”
New storage technologies
However, another storage technology is slowly gaining ground among Philippine enterprises that promises the elimination of duplicate data in their storage systems in a new storage concept called deduplication.
When applied on a company’s storage infrastructure, deduplication systems checks if there are duplicates of a certain file; if there are, the system only stores it once. This method frees up capacity in the systems and allows more data to be stored.
Deduplication is such an up-and-coming technology that the major vendors have padded their respective portfolios to be able to address the market demand.
EMC, for example, has acquired companies such as Avamar and Data Domain for this front; Hewlett-Packard, on the other hand, is pushing its StoreOnce technology; while Dell gobbled up Ocarina Networks for their own data deduplication solutions.
HP recently released to the local market the availability of its StoreOnce technology, which promises about 100TB per hour backup speed and 40TB per hour restore speed.
In contrast, tape-based backup could only backup about 3TB per hour, HP claimed.
But even if the technology is already available, not a lot of Philippine-based firms seem too keen to use deduplication systems, particularly in the case of backing up data.
According to a recent survey by EMC conducted by VansonBourne, only 35 percent of companies deduplicate when backing up their data, the lowest in the Asia Pacific region where Thailand leads with 73 percent of firms deduplicating during backup.
The study outlined the time needed to deduplicate, cost, and network capacity of organizations as common barriers to deduplication.
Potentials in backup
But even storage requirements of companies are at an all-time high, EMC’s Latinazo said they are seeing vast potentials in providing systems for backup as well as for third-party service providers providing backup services to companies.
The EMC executive said the Philippines is relatively behind in the backup space compared with the core storage platform use, suggesting bigger headroom for growth in the segment.
In fact, in the EMC and VansonBourne study, it revealed that the top two backup media used by Philippine companies are CD-ROMs (51 percent) and tape drives (47 percent), with disk-based storage only getting the third place.
“Based on the survey, the major problem is the higher propensity of [firms] to spend less, especially with the perceived higher cost of moving out of tape [backup],” Latinazo explained.
Latinazo pointed out how the backup and disaster recovery industry is rapidly moving out of tape-based backups, primarily due to the high cost of transporting them –around $75 to $400 a month just moving and storing tapes — as well as the general unreliability of the medium.
“Even consumers are moving out of tape-based storage. [Companies have the] perception of higher cost of moving to other technologies, which based on our studies is not the case,” he stressed.
EMC said deploying next-generation backup and recovery systems, including data deduplication and network-based replication technologies, is important to prepare the companies for routine disruption or other significant incidents, particularly in a country such as the Philippines often struck by natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons.