Friday, 17 June 2011

Are Storage Costs Driving You Crazy?

Almost thirty years ago novelist and screenwriter Rita Mae Brown defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” I’m quite certain she didn’t have storage hardware purchasing in mind when she wrote that, but it’s a perfect description of the usual IT strategy in this regard: buy more.

To be fair, I’ll admit that it’s not like IT has a lot of choice. Factors like server and desktop virtualization (Gartner predicts a 600% growth in storage capacity over the next three years due to these technologies alone), increasingly onerous data retention regulatory requirements, and the growth of rich media are driving an ever-increasing demand for storage. But the situation is definitely one in which “business as usual” is simply insane. It’s time for an intervention.

To explain, I’m going to turn to Jon Toigo, Chairman of The Data Management Institute LLC, who is a master of the “picture worth a thousand words.”
Even a cursory glance at his infographic shows the primary reasons why storage hardware is driving IT crazy.

First off, storage accounts for between one-third and three-quarters of IT hardware spending.

Second, the annualized total cost of ownership for storage is four to five times the initial acquisition expense. Putting in the boxes is just the start of your adventure: now you have to manage the storage, protect the data (e.g., backup, mirroring, etc.), and pay for power and cooling.

Third—and this is definitely crazy-making—once you’ve got all this wonderful storage in place, you find that you can’t use it efficiently: only about 30% of your storage ends up doing anything really useful. The rest is inert, allocated but unused, orphaned, or used to store stuff that’s of no use to your business.

That means you have to buy three times as much storage as you need just to make sure you don’t run out. But that just puts you back in the same insane loop, and you won’t get different results no matter how much storage you throw at the problem.

So you need to stage an intervention. And it can’t be a half-way effort, either.

The solution to this craziness is storage virtualization, which can boost your storage efficiency dramatically, make data protection easier, and reduce your storage management burden, all of which will drive down your storage costs as a percentage of IT spend. (You can get more details on storage virtualization and storage efficiency in Jon’s new white paper, Storage Virtualization for Rock Stars.)

But you have to take it all the way. Leaving storage virtualization capabilities locked up in proprietary array vendor controllers will leave you with islands of storage and put you right back in the inefficiency loop, albeit at a higher level. You’ll be hostage to your storage hardware vendor when it comes to expanding your storage infrastructure, and find it difficult to eke the maximum useful life out of your arrays as they reach end-of-support.

Better to declare your entire independence from storage craziness with storage virtualization software that’s vendor-agnostic and endures over multiple generations of hardware. That way you can squeeze the maximum efficiency out of your existing storage infrastructure and be free to add new storage from any source, on your schedule and within your budget, while your storage virtualization software continues to handle the details of efficiency, data protection, and management as it always has.

Now that’s sanity.

Graphic Source: Toigo Partners International, LLC

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