We’re pleased to welcome Devang Panchigar of StorageNerve into the community with this guest post on storage spending.
The Storage Economics Practice
We all buy storage, either in the SMB Space or at an Enterprise level. We use storage to run our business, to store structured and unstructured data. Data means everything these days. Without data we won’t necessarily be able to do business.
But have we thought about the economics associated with storage? As consumers, we tend to consume more than necessary at times if we want to have enough buffer, or if we anticipate projected growth, business requirements, customer requirements, technology improvements, and the list goes on.
Lets stop for a minute and try to figure out what can we do to potentially keep up with all the use cases above, but not grow the data storage as rapidly. Rather, let’s figure out means to compress, consolidate, and reduce footprint with our data.
I am in no way suggesting not to buy storage, but if a customer walks up to me and says, “We are growing our storage at 70% a year,” but when I look at their balance sheet and the numbers don’t reflect that growth, I will not buy into those storage growth numbers. Those are probably coming in from a vendor that is trying to push more products into the storage environment.
There are several aspects one should consider related to Storage Economics, how your shrinking IT budgets can still meet up with your growing business requirements, and what you can do to keep a balance between both.
With various aspects of Storage Economics below, some may be applicable in the SMB space, some in the enterprise space, and some really at all levels. These may turn into the building blocks of your Storage Economics practice:
- It’s important to know what storage do you have and where you have it.
- Try to move away from fat provisioning to thin provisioning.
- Front-end storage virtualization using standard storage arrays in the back end.
- Run non-vendor specific SRM (Storage Resource Management) tools for storage optimization and storage management.
- Having a storage management tool is a must. You can still perform your daily task using various element managers.
- Industry standard average storage utilization numbers range between 35 to 45%. If you can push your storage utilization number up to 75 to 80%, it will help you drive the cost down phenomenally.
- Implement deduplication; verify your storage array supports deduplication natively. If not, it should be implemented in various parts of your storage like backup, unstructured data, etc.
- Run a heterogeneous environment with multiple vendors in it to keep balance relating to price structures.
- Though ILM is a forgotten word these days, make sure you run tiering within your storage environment that can help you move your data from higher SLA tiers to lower SLA tiers for cost containment purposes.
- Consider after warranty support for your storage hardware to independent service providers rather than manufactures.
- Look at extending the life of your storage arrays from a typical between 2.5 years and 3 years to 6 years.
- Implement technologies like automated storage tiering, storage deduplication, storage compression and many more in the market today.
- Storage environments have gotten very complex over the years with new storage technologies and switching technologies. At the end of the day, invest into a technology that benefits your organization, your infrastructure, your business model and your requirements.
- Leverage the use of outsourced computing models including Cloud technologies available in the market today. Could be private clouds or public clouds or really a mesh of these clouds technologies and offerings.
- Budget for your storage requirements and try to live by those even if you have to take drastic measures to keep it under budget.
- Try to gain more operational efficiencies within the storage environment.
- Understand the TCO with any new storage purchase, as cost of new storage could include several aspects of implementation including migration, consulting, downtime, missed SLA’s, Training, etc.
- Try to reclaim your data or storage as old systems are retired or migrated.
- Check for inconsistencies in your Storage environment as those could result in missed SLA’s, downtime and penalties.
- Do not over provision and do not over budget. Its just storage, if you need more you can buy more, but having storage sitting there doing nothing for years in anticipation of being used one day will cause your efficiencies to slip heavily.
- Do not create unnecessary storage management tasks and processes for your storage environment.
- Having backups and good working backups is very important, but do not tie down your storage with numerous copies of snaps, clones, mirrors, BCV’s, etc for a rainy day, rather have a DR plan and copy a single instance of data remotely for DR purposes.
- Plot trends for your storage environment. See if trends can help you budget, forecast and provision your storage accurately.
- Remember the larger storage footprint you have, the larger your backup footprints will be, causing more storage space, more backup time windows, more network traffic, slower response times, more tapes, more offsite backups, more backup management cost and possibly more licensing cost.
- Get away from managing islands of storage; rather move to a more centralized storage management, long-term effects are amazing.
- Try to reduce licensing cost around storage software. The less storage you deploy, the less licensing per TB cost that you will pay.
There are numerous areas of storage management that the customers can try to bring in efficiencies that will help them better manage storage, reduce footprint, and reduce CAPEX and OPEX. It starts as a small practice within organizations and the value it creates grips the rest of the IT management teams.
So take this opportunity and plant the seeds for your Storage Economics practice now.
With more than 7 Years of IT experience, Devang is currently the Director of Technology Solutions and IT Operations at Computer Data Source, Inc. Along with various industry certifications, Devang holds a Bachelor of Science from South Gujarat University, India and a Master of Science in Computer Science from North Carolina A&T State University. You can catch Devang’s Storage Blog at StorageNerve.com and enterprise commentary at GestaltIT.com