Magazine Article | May 17, 2007

Starved For Storage?

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Channel convergence, store growth, and data security cause a clamor for storage.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, June 2007

Five years ago, a multiple-choice poll of our readers' interests might not have included data storage as an option. Sure, most of our readers are at least in part responsible for procuring or maintaining storage and backup solutions for their enterprises. But storage has historically been a routine, ho-hum task in retail, not exactly the stuff of CIO legacies. But the data management implications of channel convergence, new standards for data security, and, for many retailers, rapid growth have made discussions about storage, data management, and data security commonplace among you.

Starbucks, which at $8 billion in annual revenue has done with coffee what Ray Kroc did with hamburgers, claims to average more than five new worldwide store openings per day. That kind of growth requires a high-volume and scalable storage solution. The retailer's SAN (storage area network) processes more than 200 TB of data, a figure that expands by more than 25% annually. But beyond supporting rapid growth, data security is central to this exemplary retailer's storage systems initiative. It went so far as to build an entire backup SAN, where all of its data is replicated, to serve as its disaster recovery site. It also operates what it terms an enterprise security platform, which manages both physical and enterprise security by monitoring data facilities and stores globally.

Storage Scales Up, Storage Scales Down
Chances are your company isn't as big as Starbucks. That doesn't mean you can't model your storage infrastructure after an industry leader at a reasonable price. Complete real-time SAN replication is an approach typically reserved for those with the means of a multibillion dollar company. But 'snapshotting' data from your SAN to an off-site appliance several times per day usually provides more than enough data protection for the small to medium retailer. This approach also enables the more frequent removal of sensitive data from the store level, where it's at its most vulnerable.

CRM (customer relationship management) initiatives, cross-channel convergence projects, PCI (payment card industry) compliance, and the explosive growth of business intelligence applications are among the leading storage-dependent trends in retail. Nearly all retailers are working on one or more of these initiatives, which begs the question — is your storage infrastructure up to the task? I'd like to know. E-mail me at, and tell me where storage projects rank on your priority list.