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This sponsored post is produced in association with Dell Storage. 

The time has come. Your business is accumulating data at a rate that is hard to keep up with, and you need more storage. Whether adding to an existing storage solution or building a data center from scratch, striking the balance between performance, cost, and availability is not easy. The good news is some storage solutions today (like Dell Compellent SC Series) include device intelligence to make managing your storage environment easier than ever before. When evaluating storage systems, you’ll want to consider looking for the following advanced features.

Auto-tiering lets you mix it up

Big data would not be possible without flash-based solid state drives (SSDs), but you don’t want to buy these drives exclusively. A better idea is to save cost by tiering — storing data on different types of drives depending on how often that data gets used. The idea is to store write-intensive “hot” data on high performance SSDs, while moving cold data to traditional, lower-cost hard disc drives (HDDs) that provide a Flash at the price of disk.

In the past, tiering was a tedious manual process that could only be done on a not-so-granular level. But nowadays, you can put your feet up. Auto-tiering classifies data based on age, frequency of use, and other policies, moving business-critical applications to the correct storage tier automatically — and it does so an a granular level.

Use just what you need: Thin provisioning

Applications crash when they run out of storage space. Rather than risk that horrific event happening, storage administrators typically over-provision server space based on anticipated needs. The problem is, once space is provisioned, you cannot reclaim it, so you can end up with a lot of unused empty disc space just sitting there.

With thin provisioning, you do not have to pre-allocate capacity. Thin provisioning provides storage to apps from a common pool of server space based on an as-need basis. When use of that storage reaches a threshold, the storage array automatically gets the extra storage from a virtual pool of storage. Thin provisioning reduces cost, because you end up purchasing less storage overall to meet your needs.

Snapshots make for faster, more frequent backups

Anyone who has lost data knows the importance of backups. But you don’t want backups slowing down your network. Snapshot technology allows you to quickly backup and restore large amounts of data without jeopardizing network performance. A snapshot is essentially a point-in-time picture of a storage device that shows how the data is organized. Because snapshots are instantaneous, you can take them more frequently, improving the security of your data. You can also use snapshots to access stored data more quickly.

Automatic replication keeps your business going

Your office floods and your servers are all under two-feet of water. Now what? Storing the same data in multiple locations ensures your business won’t grind to a halt in the event of a disaster. Replication is also useful when data at the headquarters needs to be synchronized with the data at multiple branch offices for reporting and data mining purposes.

Typically, you will want to replicate across a network with devices at different locations. But because synchronizing multiple devices is complicated, it is best done with the help of software. Auto replication lets you specify exactly how you want it done and how often, so you don’t have to sweat the details.

Keep in mind, you need to not only identify the right solution with the features you need, but one that is supported by a vendor that provides strong customer support and products that play well with third parties. Consider these options, and you’ll be on your way to a storage solution that makes sense for your needs – and may save you from your disaster while saving you money.

For more information about advanced storage options, visit Dell Storage.

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