Archive for the ‘Storage Economics’ Category

Storage Economics – Hardware Maintenance – Part 1

August 5th, 2009 2 comments

So on several occasions, I have written about Storage management and the cost reduction associated with it in terms of CapEx and OpEx. In this blog post we will talk about how your organization may further be able to leverage resources available in the industry to reduce TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and improve ROA (Return on Assets) for the storage devices you own.

For example purposes, lets assume we are only talking about one single Storage device (frame) in the environment. Also for this blog post, lets assume the manufacturer (OEM) of the Storage frame is the vendor.

The concept of Hardware Maintenance

You purchased a storage asset 3 years ago. Spend a million dollars in acquisition cost on that storage device, also paid for software licenses, implementation cost, migration cost and training cost.  You are almost at a 2 million dollar mark to implement this Enterprise Class Storage, which includes your Tier1 and / or Tier 2 data.

How is this Storage frame doing today?

It’s working great, applications associated with it are robust, Thank God over the past 3 years we haven’t seen any outages in this environment.

Oh…………by the way, the vendor just visited today and is proposing we do a tech refresh in this environment.

The Strategy related to Hardware Maintenance

So the first question, are you ready for this tech refresh?

Is your business ready for this tech refresh?

Is your team ready and trained for this new technology?

Do you need external resources for this tech refresh?

Are there budgets and proposed growth in the business to pay for this tech refresh?

Do we really need a tech refresh?

Are your applications ready for this tech refresh?

Would your host environments be ready for this tech refresh?

What is that you are trying to gain by this tech refresh – Processing Power, Speed, Savings, Green Data Center, Power, Electricity, management cost, etc?

Are your users complaining about your application performance?

Is the number of users growing on these apps?

So how many Nah’s and Yah’s do we have on the questions above?

The Facts about Hardware Maintenance

The vendor is proposing a substantial savings and helping us reduce the TCO on these assets over the next three years.

Cost of hardware maintenance from the vendor for year 4, year 5 and year 6 (on the existing storage asset) is almost equivalent to the cost of purchasing new assets

We are being offered the best deal, free training, the vendor reduced the hardware acquisition cost by 20% and they have another 5% discount for the quarter closing tomorrow.

The beliefs about Hardware Maintenance

Hardware Support: No one other than the vendor can provide hardware support on the Storage assets because it is just too complex to manage.

Remote Support and Diagnostics: No one other than the vendor can provide remote support and diagnostics.

Code Upgrades (Firmware) and Engineering Support: No one other than the vendor can provide Code upgrades and Engineering Support.

Global Technical Support: No one other than the vendor has a 24 x 7 global technical support.

Onsite Certified & Trained Engineers: Only the vendor has trained and certified onsite engineers.

Spares: 24 x 7, 4 hour response spare parts logistics, only the vendor has it.

SLA: Only the vendor can provide a mission critical or a premium SLA that would include either 24 x 7 x 2 support or 24 x 7 x 4 support.

Software Support: No one other than the vendor can provide Software support

So, how do you get around these industry notions?

Please stay tuned for the next blog post on Storage Economics – Hardware Maintenance – Part 2 tomorrow.

Storage Optimization

July 24th, 2009 No comments

Well the first question: What is Storage Optimization?

A lot of new storage technologies are up and coming that have either Storage Virtualization or Thin Provisioning built as its core value. Those technologies can help run your storage in a much efficient manner, but what are your options related to your existing infrastructure that may consist of EMC Symmetrix DMX & above, EMC Clariion CX & above, NetApp FAS series, NetApp G Series, NetApp V Series, HDS USP, HDS USPV, HDS AMS, IBM DS Series, HP Eva’s, LSI’s, SUN branded LSI’s, etc. I am not suggesting if you are running Storage Virtualization or Thin Provisioning you are running at 90 or 100 percent efficiency, there are still places where these technologies start building inefficiencies as your storage environment starts to mature.

The point I am trying to make is, what have you done last to optimize your Storage Environment. Over the past year, I have met a lot of customers including IT IT Planning folks, CIO organizations, IT Directors, Storage Managers, Storage Engineers where all these folks work so hard to maintain and manage IT Assets on the floor including Storage environments. A Storage Engineer is always busy trying to keep up with new projects, migrations, consolidations, etc. In the race of life to get promotion at work, make managers happy, keeping up with new technology & projects, we all forget about things we decided to do yesterday or rather the day you joined the organization.

When was the last time you thought about reducing your organizations OpEx and CapEx. When was the last time, you took your organization through a Storage Optimization exercise. Have you setup a Storage Economics practice within your Storage environments that would help you reclaim stranded storage, help you re-tier your storage based on business needs, help you increase utilization and reduce inefficiencies within your Storage Environments.

Responses we get talking to various Storage folks, we try to do the best we can to keep up with the day to day storage needs, and we went through an exercise to optimize our environment about 12 months ago.

Wait a minute, 12 months ago? Each wasted month is a savings lost.

In my previous blog posts, I have addressed some very fundamental issues related to Storage Environments that can help you achieve the necessary goals you might have for your organization.

Please see the related blog post below that show you how inefficiencies get built, how to your storage should be optimized and the overall savings you would realize as an organization:

Case Study:
We went through a POC for a customer with their existing storage environment (efficiency, utilization, tiering), Customer had some environments running 20% and 30% utilized with 1 single tier. They were looking to invest more into a specific storage platform. Apparently the folks were just astonished to review the results and the savings.

Total savings of 10 Million US dollars over 3 years with establishing a Storage Economics practice for their 1 PB Storage Environment.

The above savings were minuscule, if there is a customer with a larger environment, the savings would increase substantially.
This savings can possibly help you acquire new technology or can be given back to the organization, making you a hero, may be take you much closer to your dreams.

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9

April 29th, 2009 No comments



The end result

Continuing the blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA), this will be the final series post. This post focuses on the end result of running an analysis in our Storage environment.


To read the previous blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA)

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 1: Storage Resource Analysis and Storage Economics

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 2: The IT – Storage World of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3: The IT – Storage Budgets of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 4: Some Fundamental Questions

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 5: Facts about your Data

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6: Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7: The Technical Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 8: The Business Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9: The End Result


In this blog post we will try to wrap up some important things we discussed in the previous blog posts.

Here is how Storage Analysis of your Infrastructure help you

1)      Reduce CAPEX

2)      Reduce OPEX

3)      Reduce Total Cost of Ownership

4)      Not spend CAPEX for implementation

5)      OPEX savings should pay for analysis by achieving efficiency and higher utilization

6)      Immediate ROI

7)      Make sure your numbers are not some arbitrary numbers; they have to be real dollars, not a 5 year plan to consolidate your assets, remember the word Immediate ROI.

8 )      Understand how much you will be paying at a front end of the deal, understand how much you will be paying as an ongoing cost, understand how much upgrades will cost, understand how many resources you will need to deploy (hardware, software, licenses, training, manpower), understand how reporting works, etc

9)      Gain operational efficiency

10)   Process should be agent less

11)   Should work Cross platform (EMC, HDS, NetApp, 3Par, IBM, HP)

12)   Data should be collected during business hours, it should be light weight, more or less not require change controls.

13)   Data should be collected possibly from the least numbers of places (host) but get a full representation of the host environment as well as storage environment.

14)   Don’t try to analyze your environment based on what someone else is using, rather see what best fits your environment based on your business processes, rules and needs. Do not just evaluate an OEM operational tool; idea is to look beyond it.

15)   PB’s of storage should be analyzed within hours, not months.

16)   Minimum Training

17)   Maximum Drill Down for Reports

18 )   Reports for various folks within an organization like Storage Operators, Storage Admins, Host Admins, Storage Managers, Infrastructure Managers, CIO’s Office.

19)   Check how your Configurations are setup in your environment

20)   Check how your tiering is setup in your environment

21)   Check for inconsistencies

22)   Check for reclamation


So the above might help you get much closer to your possible goals of 2009, “DO MORE WITH LESS”.


Storage Analysis is not something you should run once, but as an organization establish a team of engineers who are responsible around increasing efficiency and utilization of your storage environment. Don’t forget your storage is between 30 to 35% of your IT budgets. Better efficiency will help you save millions on the front end (CapEx) and millions on backend (OpEx).


The “PRACTICE OF STORAGE ECONOMICS”, which seems to be a big thing every OEM is jumping on to these days, should be followed within your organization.


It has to be made a Practice, not just a onetime reclamation exercise. Best example, we live in our house and how often do we clean it, repairs, ongoing work to make it better every time. Storage is the same way, it needs work. 



We have been talking to a large manufacturer here in the US. They have in excess of 10 PB of Storage. During our initial meeting with them about Storage, they mentioned how they have been able to successfully implement a plan in their organization for Storage Reclamation which has helped them reduce millions of dollars in Storage purchases. Also on the other hand, due to the Storage economics practice, they have managed to increase their operational efficiency in storage and thereby reduce their OpEx, again savings which would account for millions.

Really happy talking to these customers, that they are not driven by an OEM to just purchase new storage, but rather their internal practices help them achieve what they target for.


What are your experiences with Storage and have you implemented a Storage Economics practice within your organization?

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7

April 27th, 2009 No comments



The Technical Case

Continuing the blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA), this post focuses on the technical case on why analysis of your storage platforms is important and how it might help you discover inconsistencies in storage environments.


To read the previous blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA)

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 1: Storage Resource Analysis and Storage Economics

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 2: The IT – Storage World of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3: The IT – Storage Budgets of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 4: Some Fundamental Questions

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 5: Facts about your Data

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6: Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7: The Technical Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 8: The Business Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9: The End Result


From a technology standpoint, it’s very important to understand what Storage Analysis will do and how it might overall bring more value, efficiencies and utilization in your environments. To talk about a few technical issues it might help you understand are..

1)      How much headroom (total possible growth) we have in our storage environment (drilldown array, lun)

2)      How much reclaimable storage do we have in our environment (drilldown array, lun)

3)      How much immediate deployable storage do we have in our storage environment (drilldown where)

4)      Can we predict capacity planning and future growth

5)      The information obtained above should be as of today, not something you started working about 3 months ago.

6)      In large volatile storage environments, things are changing every second, it hard to keep a track of your storage configurations, relationships, headroom, capacity, reclamation.

7)      Are you maintaining spreadsheets or access databases to keep a track of your applications, application owners, wwn, servers, zones, etc. You need to consider something soon.

8 )      Do you enforce Tiering in our environment, how much data do we have based on each tier.

9)      Do we follow ILM approach, how much data needs to be migrated over to different tiers based on business needs and rules (we should see FAST later this year that should automate the process on V-Max)

10)   Do we have any configuration issues in our environments that have caused major storage outages (single path host, multipath host with only one path active, LUN masking issues, zoning issues, BCV issues, other configuration issues)

11)   How many times in the past 6 months have we had a major application outage and what caused it (how much penalties did we pay for those – OPEX dollars).

12)   If we follow any compliance (SEC, Sarbanes Oxley, HIPPA, etc), is our data complaint in terms of replication, policies, etc

13)   Do we have any manual processes for charge backs and bill backs, if so, what can we do to automate it.

14)   Do we know how the LUN’s in our environment are setup and the relationships it has with LUN’s on other arrays in terms of replication, BCV, Snaps, Clones, SRDF, etc.

15)   Do we know how the storage is growing in our environment: Trend Analysis

16)   What sorts of report are available to you for the analysis you are performing.

17)   Be careful to not just obtain a nice topology diagram of what is connected where, but being able to drill down real time to obtain LUN level details is important.

18)   With any storage analysis product, how much work is involved, How much training, How much training related cost, ease of use, number of users, detailed drill down, how easy would it be to analyze your environment, etc needs to be understood before the project starts.

19)   Do we have a Storage Economics Practice setup within our Storage environment to consistently increase our utilization, efficiency, reclamation and lower our outages & cost.



We had a conference call with a potential customer late last week about our storage offerings. This is a large insurance company that has acquired quite a few different companies over the past 5 years and are growing and currently going through data center consolidation projects.

During the call, we asked what they were doing for reclamation and other storage economics. To my surprise, they answered, we had purchased an OEM based Operational Software about 5 years ago and we didn’t like it, there are different people within the organization that still use it, but it’s not giving us the required results we want, more or less its used for alerts.

Now we have just purchased and going through an implementation of another OEM’s Operational Software for data reclamation, analysis and monitoring. The customer goes ahead and says, we have been trying to implement this software within our environment for the past 4 months now.

The point I am trying to make is, whatever these deployments are, they have to be easy enough, cost effective, not time and resource consuming, not consume your CAPEX dollars and not spend you OPEX dollars (training, implementation, outages).

It has to be light weight, easily deployable, should yield results in a short duration of time (hours or days rather than months), but still should be able to analyze your environment at a very detailed level.


What are you using today to manage your several hundred TB or an enormously large double digit PB storage estate?