Storage – Utilization, efficiency, cost, dedup, TP, virtualization, ZPR, compression or call it Economics
There are fundamental concepts of storage Economics, which typically include Thin Provisioning, Deduplication, Zero Page Reclaim, Compression, Reclaimation, Efficiency, Utilization, TCO, ROI, CAPEX, OPEX, etc.
Storage Economics is one of those subjects, everyone likes to hear about, but it’s hard to find it implemented in today’s storage environments.
With that said, a lot of vendors are natively trying to add the concepts of Storage Economics into their storage arrays. With some latest discussions we had with our current visit to Hitachi Japan on the topics of Storage Economics and the core concepts that help customer increase utilization & efficiency in storage environments, here is an attempt to shed some more light on the topic.
We use storage to run our business, to store structured and unstructured data. Data means everything these days. 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. Many vendors these days guarantee 20% more efficiency, 50% less storage, 50% less storage using Thin, etc, etc, etc.
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 you have and where you have it.
- Try to move away from fat provisioning to thin provisioning.
- Use the concepts of Storage Virtualization to increase efficiency and utilization
- 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 native element managers.
- Industry standard average storage utilization numbers range between 35 to 45%. If you can push your storage utilization numbers higher, 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.
- Implement storage arrays that natively support Automated Storage Tiering and can automate the movement of data to the required Tiers based on time of the day, policies, spike in usage or business requirements.
- If there are native compression technologies available on the Storage Arrays for secondary or backup storage, implement those as a means to reduce your footprint.
- Look at extending the life of your storage arrays from a typical 3 years to 6 or 7 years.
- Leverage the use of outsourced computing models including Cloud technologies available in the market today. Could be private clouds or public clouds or a mesh of both technologies to reduce the storage footprint and management.
- Budget for your storage requirements and try to live by those even if you have to take drastic measures to keep it under control.
- Try to gain more operational efficiencies within the storage environments.
- 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, management, etc.
- Try to reclaim storage as old host systems / server 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 idle storage doing nothing for years in anticipation of future growth will heavily skew operational storage efficiencies.
- 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 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 many other factors you can implement; here are a few different posts from the past talking about this topic.
A Google search on Storage Economics yields
There are numerous areas of storage management that 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.
In large organizations, there are Storage Architecture teams, Deployment teams, Provisioning teams and Operational Support teams, but seldom do we see a Storage Economics Team that helps drive utilization and efficiency through best economic practices within storage environments.
So take this opportunity and plant the seeds for your Storage Economics practice now.