19 DEC 2017

Business data storage systems: use, benefits, supports

Any company active in the market, regardless of sector, type of company and size, needs to have a secure and robust data storage system. In fact, data today is in effect, a company asset and, for this reason, companies must safeguard their data. Above all, in terms of protection, privacy and competition, corporate data is a sensitive element and can end up in the hands of hackers.

There are several systems to compress and encrypt data, as well as different data storage systems and the media on which it is possible to store them. Let’s look at some of the variables to consider in detail when the company must decide where and how to store its data.

Storing company data, which systems and supports are suitable?

Storage systems

Basically, storage systems are systems which memorize data. There are different types of storage. For example, we can have a small server in a corporate network, connected to 10-20 computers in the office and equipped with hard disks, or SAN (Storage Area Network) networks that contain hundreds of hard disks. Another method for storing business data is to use Cloud technologies that distribute data using data centers all over the world.

Storing media

The current standard storage devices are (HDD – magnetic storage on high speed metal disks) and solid state (SSD – same type of flash memory used in mobile phones). HDDs are cheaper, SSDs are faster.

Compressing and encrypting data for archiving

Data must be encrypted if it is sensitive data that is stored on systems outside the company (Cloud) or even on internal systems, if it is sensitive data. However, it is necessary to have appropriate management of the encryption keys: several of recent data thefts have involved encrypted data in which the keys were not adequately protected.

Differences between backup and data storage

“Backup” is a copy of the data (and often of the applications too) which are on the computer, it is done for security purposes to avoid data loss. With “data storage” we mean the creation of a company data system, to which all users, in compliance with company policies, can access.

With the advent of Big Data, we need to expand and consider the storage of large volumes of data. In fact, big data forces us to design, manage and maintain data storage systems capable of managing and processing ever-increasing volumes.

Archiving business data, better in Cloud?

In the case of data storage with Cloud systems, different variables must be taken into consideration, variables which are crucial for the company. Usually the costs for a Cloud storage system are lower than those needed to set up and maintain their own data storage system. But we cannot evaluate only costs without considering company policies: not everyone is in favor of outsourcing the management of company data. For this reason, in order to find the best balance between costs and company policies, companies often resort to hybrid solutions in which some of the data is on the Cloud, while a part considered “critical” remains in the company. When the company is about to make a choice based either on company policies or on cost evaluation, it should always be remembered that corporate systems are not always safer than Cloud, because they can be vulnerable and easily attacked.

Data storage and data searchability systems: evaluations and schemes

Once the support and the archiving methods have been chosen, the process is not yet complete! It is during the archiving phase that it is also necessary to provide a system of data searchability, that is, a filing method that allows others to search and find stored data, even those who did not design the system. A clear example to explain the criteria of searchability – and, of course, archiving – of data is that of the phonebook. The old phonebook listed the telephone number for each subscriber in alphabetical order. Anyone who has interacted with a phonebook understands that with a list it is easy to find the number of a subscriber, given his name, but if the question had been “I found a missed call on my cell phone, how can I associate it with a name?”, the phonebook would not have been so useful! Another type of phonebook would be needed, with the same information (associating a name with a number) but organized by telephone number and not by name.

The searchability of data depends strongly on the type of data and information we want to obtain. Often, we have systems optimized for some types of research that work very slowly as soon as we change the type of research we want to do. For this reason, it is essential to forecast beforehand the uses and research that could be associated with the volume of data before moving on to the storage of the data.

Elaborated by Lucia D’Adamo, in collaboration with Luigi Laura, supervised by Marco Pirrone


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