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What is data storage management?

Posted on: August 11, 2023
Man working in data storage facility

In our digital world, businesses generate and use vast amounts of data every single day. Spanning everything from commercially sensitive customer details to confidential financial records, this data must be managed and stored efficiently, effectively, and securely.

This is where data storage management comes in. It is a crucial component of any organisation’s IT infrastructure, managing data throughout its lifecycle – from creation to deletion. Data storage management refers to the processes and technologies that are used to oversee this data. It typically covers:

  • planning, designing, and implementing data storage systems
  • ensuring data can be accessed easily when needed
  • ongoing management of data storage systems to ensure that information is protected.

What is the purpose of data storage management?

Data storage management serves a number of purposes. By implementing proper data storage management practices – and utilising the right technologies and platforms – businesses can ensure that they have access to the data they need, when they need it, and that it is kept secure.

But in addition to this, data storage management also helps ensure data is:

  • reliable, as data is kept safe from outside influences and other cyberthreats
  • stored in the most cost-effective method possible.

Understanding the difference between data storage and data storage management

Data storage simply refers to the storage of data, and is effectively a component of data storage management. For example, there are different tools and platforms available for data storage.

Data storage management, however, is more involved. It involves managing and organising the data within these storage systems.

Types and methods of data storage

There are many different examples of data storage types and methods. These include:

Physical storage

Physical storage options include:

  • Traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), which are commonly used in personal desktop computers.
  • Solid-state drives (SSDs), which use flash memory to store data and are typically used in smartphones, tablets, and laptops. 
  • Magnetic tape storage, which stores data on magnetic tape cartridges and are typically used for long-term data archiving and system backups.

HDDs and SSDs are also known as storage arrays, which are systems used for:

According to TechTarget, arrays “combine a series of drives into one system that can store up to petabytes of data under a central management system” and were designed to separate storage from servers.

Cloud storage

While physical storage types still play an important role in organisational storage infrastructures, cloud storage has been rapidly adopted for both personal and business data storage needs. 

This popular storage method works by using remote servers – which are accessed over the internet – to store data. Cloud services mean that people can retrieve their data in real-time online and without needing to access on-premises servers

Other benefits of cloud storage solutions include:

  • Greater storage capacity and scalability. With data hosted in online storage spaces, the cloud can host large amounts of data – and increase capacity as required.
  • Greater data protection. Third-party cloud storage providers are obliged to safeguard the data they store, meaning that cloud storage often has greater data security measures than traditional storage methods. This is particularly important when storing sensitive data, and ensuring compliance with data protection rules such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Greater performance. Cloud storage often offers high-performance benefits. For example, it can help reduce data latency.

There are also hybrid clouds. Google explains that a hybrid cloud is a “mixed computing environment where applications are run using a combination of computing, storage, and services in different environments — public clouds and private clouds, including on-premises data centers or ‘edge’ locations. Hybrid cloud computing approaches are widespread because almost no one today relies entirely on a single public cloud.”

Data storage management technologies and platforms

As with data storage, there are many different examples of the technologies and platforms available for data storage management. These include:

Storage area networks (SANs)

Storage area networks are high-speed networks that connect an organisation’s servers to its storage devices and allow for centralised storage management. SANs often use something called storage provisioning, which ensures that data is assigned to the optimal storage server to make data access easier and enhance the user experience for those using the storage environment.

Network attached storage (NAS)

Network attached storage refers to file systems that grant people easy access to files over a network.

Cloud storage services

Cloud storage services allow organisations to store and manage their digital data using off-site servers that are maintained by third-party providers. Some of the most commonly used examples of cloud storage services include:

  • Amazon AWS
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud Storage

Data backup and recovery solutions

Data backup and disaster recovery services enable automatic backups and replication of data. They ensure that businesses and people can recover their data in the event of a system failure or other critical data event.

How data storage management supports other technologies

When organisations ensure that their data is stored and managed effectively, it can assist and support their other important technologies and services – such as automation, machine learning, data integration, and big data –  because it ensures these services can call on accessible, accurate data. 

How to help support effective data storage management

There are a number of ways that businesses can support effective data storage management. This includes:

  • Creating a dedicated storage management strategy or framework. This strategy should outline roles and responsibilities, workflows, and so on.
  • Writing, maintaining, and following policies on topics such as data retention and data loss incidents. 
  • Utilising storage management solutions. Using storage management software and management tools to work with data storage resources can make it significantly easier for organisations to manage their structured and unstructured data.

Learn to lead with data

Explore data storage management in depth by studying the 100% online MSc Management with Data Analytics at Keele University. This flexible, part-time programme has been designed for leaders and aspiring leaders who are aiming to progress into more senior roles, and who want to develop a firm understanding of the strategic and operational challenges in running an organisation, particularly through the lens of harnessing data for success.

One of the key modules on this programme examines systems design and programming, covering algorithms, data structures, data storage and manipulation, data mining, user interfaces, and object oriented programming. You will also explore the development of computer programmes using appropriate technology, including the accessing of data sets over the internet, and the use of user interfaces to manipulate and display data. By the time you finish your studies, you will be able to develop programmes in a major programming language using principles taught on the course.

Other areas of study include:

  • visualisation for data analytics
  • data analytics and databases
  • leading and complexity
  • operations and supply chain management
  • financial statement analysis.
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