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Unique data protection schemes

April 28th, 2009

Storage system manufacturers are pursuing unique ways of processing large amounts of data while still being able to provide redundancy in case of disaster. Some large SAN units incorporate intricate device block-level organization, essentially creating a low-level file system from the RAID perspective. Other SAN units have an internal block-level transaction log in place so that the control processor of the SAN is tracking all of the block-level writes to the individual disks. Using this transaction log, the SAN unit can recover from unexpected power failures or shutdowns.

Some computer scientists specializing in the storage system field are proposing adding more intelligence to the RAID array controller card so that it is ‘file system aware.’ This technology would provide more recoverability in case disaster struck, the goal being the storage array would become more self-healing.

Other ideas along these lines are to have a heterogeneous storage pool where multiple computers can access information without being dependant on a specific system’s file system. In organizations where there are multiple hardware and system platforms, a transparent file system will provide access to data regardless of what system wrote the data.

Other computer scientists are approaching the redundancy of the storage array quite differently. The RAID concept is in use on a vast number of systems, yet computer scientists and engineers are looking for new ways to provide better data protection in case of failure. The goals that drive this type of RAID development are data protection and redundancy without sacrificing performance.

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