JOHANNESBURG – August 24, 2011 – It has been well recorded that the one component of an IT enterprise that cannot be replaced once lost, is data, making storage critical for any enterprise.
According to Mark van Rensburg, executive: Contact Centre Solutions at technology solutions and people resources integrator, Intuate Group, factors driving storage architectures in today’s data centre include virtualisation, green IT, regulatory compliance, communication and the voracious need for more information and data.
He maintains that server virtualisation is responsible for many IT infrastructure decisions and, most importantly, what kind of shared storage platform to deploy.
“The SAN versus NAS storage debate, which raged in the first part of this decade, seems to have resurfaced. Many call centres, if they haven’t already, are beginning to look at virtual desktop software – also referred to as desktop virtualisation or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – as a way to help manage the challenges of user desktops and laptops. It typically drives down end-point costs in organisations with a large number of shift workers, as is often the case with call centres. The load that desktop virtualisation puts on data storage management, which manifests in capacity problems and boot storms, is unprecedented, even when compared with server virtualisation,” he says.
From a sustainable IT point of view, he says that power and cooling are now, more than ever before, costly resources that have to be considered. “We are shoe-horning more and more processing power and data into ever shrinking spaces, once again affecting power and cooling requirements,” he says.
Van Rensburg adds that regulations such as PCI-DSS are forcing companies to look at how data is secured and stored. “The ever present National Credit Regulator is breathing over our shoulders to make sure we retain records especially space consuming voice recordings for unknown lengths of time.
“And, probably the biggest talking points when it comes to call centres are VoIP and SIP (session initiation protocol) and the drive for business process improvement leveraging unified communication technology drivers. This blurs the lines between structured and unstructured data in the IT shop and calls for careful storage planning.”
In addition, the need to protect confidential data is becoming more stringent by the day.
Whatis.com defines storage as: Storage is frequently used to mean the devices and data connected to the computer through input/output operations. That is, hard disk and tape systems and other forms of storage that don’t include computer memory and other in-computer storage. For the enterprise, the options for this kind of storage are of much greater variety and expense than that related to memory.
“More concisely – storage nowadays generally refers to external appliances and, although internal hard drives in a server are essentially storage devices, the term more often than not refers to the former,” explains van Rensburg.
“The hard drive has grown exponentially while price has dropped disproportionately over the past two decades and this trend will continue well into the future. That’s the evolution. The revolution comes with the innovative technologies that allow a small team of storage engineers to manage enterprise storage area networks of petabytes – more than a billion megabytes of data – for clients while replicating and pushing this data to an offsite facility where it can be retrieved remotely and at will.
“The point is that the storage industry is probably progressing quicker than any of the other IT components such as processors and memory.”
However, he adds, even “dream” storage innovations, such as data deduplication, thin and dynamic provisioning and virtual “tape” libraries, can prove to be complex and so have a great impact on call centre storage decision-making.
“Issues in the call centre that provide an additional challenge for a storage manager include provisioning, data proliferation, record retention for compliance, high availability and back up and recovery. Simply put, storage is critical, yes, but all the factors involved are as important and cannot be overlooked. However, what looks like a nightmare of choices at first, can with the right knowledge, skills and assistance, be turned into a dream storage solution for any call centre,” he says.
ABOUT INTUATE GROUP:
Intuate Group (Pty) Limited provides specialised integrated solutions and flexible services, including: contact centres; portfolio, programme and project management and offices; managed services; business intelligence data analytics; and back up, archiving and disaster recovery, which bring real benefit to its clients in support of their strategic and operational objectives.
The solutions are enabled through best of breed global technologies and are continuously enhanced through thought leadership and ongoing research.
Established in 2000, Intuate Group is a privately owned South African organisation based in Sandton, with satellite offices in Durban and Cape Town.
For more information, please visit www.intuategroup.com
Intuate Group, Mark van Rensburg, (011) 302-1200, firstname.lastname@example.org