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Storage Pipeline: Special Report: Ultimate Enterprise Storage

Although the concept of instant access to all data all the time is extremely
appealing, the key is to balance needs against costs. Only the most critical
data must be available immediately in the event of a network or system failure,
and priority is best determined during business-continuity planning. Costs can
be reduced significantly by backing up noncritical data to tape, optical disc
and other offline storage systems as opposed to replicating data in real time
throughout the enterprise.

Enterprise RAID solutions and other redundant SAN-based technology is not
cost-effective for small companies with relatively few employees, but tape
backup and low-cost NAS (network-attached storage) systems can do the trick in
most cases. An accounting firm or medical office may need immediate restore
capability, for instance, while a service business--an office cleaning company,
say--may be able to survive longer without instant data access.

Large companies with hundreds or thousands of employees typically need
significantly more robust--and more expensive--storage systems that comprise a
variety of technologies. A RAID array can suffer a hard-drive failure without
losing any data, but it won't do much good when data loss stems from fire,
theft, virus or user error. Here again, tape-backup solutions are essential in
providing recallable static storage that can reside on- or off-site.

Comparing Storage Options

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