Data storage for manufacturing industry is different from corporate applications!

Manufacturing environments generally have different set of data storage requirements, than what is usually observed in corporate world. This is due to the fact that IT environments of manufacturing companies should deal with globally dispersed design team as well as growing regulatory concerns.

Usually, people go with a notion that those companies which manufacture massive machines such as construction trucks will usually need massive and complex IT infrastructures needed to support the collaborative design and development of these monster machines. Well, it may have been this way once, but not today.

“The IT infrastructure is not as big as you might think. There are a lot of parts used in the design of one of our products, but for the most part we have a few basic designs and a lot of different configurations. There’s not a tremendous amount of data,” says Kenneth Olson, technical specialist in the storage management group at Peoria, IL-based Caterpillar, which touts itself as the world’s largest maker of construction and forestry equipment.

Regardless of the manufacturing vertical a company belongs, the amount of data generated by the manufacturer offers unique challenges to IT managers involved in these environments. Products are now designed by teams of often geographically dispersed designers and developers who share product designs, specifications and requirements across a global network. Outside suppliers and subcontractors play a vital role in a product’s development, and components are designed and sourced from a variety of providers. So, all this accounts to a distributed world where one can have a thousand engineers, consultants and subcontractors spread out across the world all wanting to access the same data. But what about the security and privacy factors in these shared environments?

Moreover, beyond the collaborative aspects, IT managers should also think differently about their systems and data. For instance, systems tend to be file-rather than database oriented. Instead of huge volumes of data transactions churning through the systems every day or every hour with frequent reads and writes, the design groups tend to load only a few files and work on them for hours at a stretch. And the files may not be that large. Although a few files sometimes hit 100MB or more, most run less than 5MB, not much more than a large PowerPoint file. The designs may ultimately be rendered as rich graphics–a task often done in batch mode–but until then they consist primarily of mathematical equations that don’t consume much storage space.

With concepts like product data management much in use, capturing only Meta data and centralizing the Meta data is also becoming a regular practice these days.

Therefore, all these factors lead to a juncture where one has to decide whether to go for a centralized or distributed storage system.

Centralized vs. Distributed Storage

Centralized storage–In centralized storage model, all storage resources reside at a primary data center and employees, designers located all over the world can access the storage resources. The benefit of a centralized model are lower capital and operational costs, security- as all data resides in a secured data center, less administrative skills requirements, less backup and disaster recovery complexity, a single business continuity plan can be employed and greater control over potential risk areas such as internet access. Thus, if it’s centralized storage, it’s easier to manage, protect and secure. However, remote users may encounter performance issues if they must continually retrieve and store files across a WAN. When the operation is far flung, the cost of multiple global links can quickly mount. If the organization has a big network in place and the data volumes are comparatively small, then centralized approach is much preferred.

Distributed Storage–In the distributed storage model, each site is self-sustained for the most part. While some connectivity to the primary datacenter is required, the remote site would host its own Email Server, manage its own backups, control its own Internet access, and host its own Shared Files. Application access may still rely on HQ, although many applications support this type of distributed model. The main downside of this approach is obliviously the costs involved.

Note- Remember not all data can be placed on a centralized storage and that is common sense. Thus, the option of a centralized storage system can lead to a big debate if it is not carefully handled.

StoneFly offers data storage solutions to manufacturing companies which can be utilized as centralized or distributed solutions. StoneFly, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dynamic Network Factory offers IP storage solutions such as NAS, SAN, RAID and iSCSI Storage. This company is a pioneer in the creation, development and deployment of the iSCSI storage protocol which is now being used as a standard by IT professionals around the world.

StoneFly offers storage solutions to manufacturers like Karen Foster Designs, Car Sound Exhaust systems and Taipan trading.

To know more call 510.265.1616 or click on StoneFly IP SAN solutions


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