Enterprise storage is large scale data storage designed for critical business and organizational functions. Businesses, government agencies, and large organizations have unique storage needs that differ from those of individual computer users. It is possible to purchase enterprise storage systems in off-the-shelf configurations that are ready to use. More commonly, companies work with consultants and their information technology personnel to develop a custom system to meet their needs.
Several issues distinguish the different data needs of organizations and individuals. One is the sheer volume. Large companies and organizations need to store a lot of data, including files that may be very large because they contain images, video, and similar materials. They also tend to need rapid access and may have decentralized operations, and thus rely on a network to get information to users when they need it. These organizations may also require archival capabilities.
High fault tolerance is also critical. If part of a system fails, the rest needs to function, or operations can grind to a halt. Enterprise storage can address this by decentralizing and backing up data. If one server fails, another can step in to fill the need. Likewise, data loss is less probable when the system has backup servers and additional backups on other storage media. The goal is to ensure continuity, so that in the event of a disaster, the system can still be functional.
Enterprise storage systems can require a dedicated storage area network. The network includes linked servers and other computers that contain and control data for the benefit of users. Users typically need to enter passwords to access the network, and information technology personnel secure it in addition to protecting the integrity of the data with backups and regular system scans. These networks must be robust and scalable. A company may need to add another server quickly, for example, and it needs to be able to fit easily into the existing network.
Costs for enterprise storage systems can vary. Some companies take advantage of online storage and cloud computing to store their material. Others require their own dedicated servers and may have to create specific storage systems to meet their needs. The purpose of the system, as a backup, archive, or emergency recovery storage system, can also have an impact on the price. Companies in the market for enterprise storage should request quotes from a number of sources to get a better idea of their options.