Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hunt for "Orphan Storage"

By Rich Walsh, Viewpointe (

Storage professionals are now under pressure to find and use “orphan storage,” rather than buying or building more capacity. Orphan storage is a form of unused or unallocated data in everything from a database to disk drives and storage area networks. The problem seems so universal, that I hear this almost everywhere I go. I recently heard one executive say: “When we buy storage, we know where it is, but now our mandate has become finding unused storage, wherever it happens to be.”

Symantec’s CEO has even gone so far as to tell the market to "stop buying storage." I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. Not being able to use your existing space or, worse, access the storage you already have – those seem to be the larger problems. Certainly IT executives are probably both gratified and mortified that this issue, which is hardly new to them, is finally getting some attention.

Recently, we asked IDC to take a deeper dive into this issue; and in a whitepaper, IDC noted outsourced storage as a good solution to the growing capacity problem. Generally they concluded that for easy access, as well as appropriate amounts of storage, outsourced systems work very well. Moving data to a hosted repository allows companies to pay only for the actual capacity they currently need, as opposed to an in-house infrastructure that is generally built for future consumption. And, this approach may be better suited for accessing the needed data at a later date.

Right now, IT executives want to make good use of all the equipment and devices that they have already purchased, and that is sound business judgment. Still, at some point, organizations are going to deplete the space they have and simply purging existing files may not be enough to keep up with the increased demand.

However, the question remains: What should companies do once they have determined just how much existing storage they have? Will they continue to buy ad-hoc, only to be faced with the exact same orphan storage problem in a few more months? Or, is it time for a fresh approach to this ever-growing problem?

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