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1 EMC Isilon TCO Benefits for Large-Scale Home Directories Overview EMC Isilon scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) has rapidly gained popularity over the past several years, successfully moving from technology deployed in numerous commercial HPC markets to broad adoption in mainstream enterprise IT. As this shift has occurred, an increasing number of enterprises are seeking to understand the advantages of Isilon scale-out NAS technology when it comes to managing the ever-growing unstructured data of their home directory environments. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY One of the key environmental factors shaping storage decisions today is the turbulent global economy. IT executives continue to be asked to achieve even more with fewer resources. Because the decision to adopt Isilon scale-out NAS is most often made in contrast to the traditional, scale-up NAS solutions already deployed within the enterprise, and is also compared to other vendors clustered scale-up NAS technology, it is important to understand the relative merits of these technologies for large-scale home directories from a capital, operational, and strategic viewpoint. EMC perspective

2 REALIZE THE BENEFITS OF EMC ISILON Maximize ROI with the highest storage utilization available Reduce TCO with policy-based automated tiering and simplified administration Reduce capital expenditures while seamlessly scaling NAS in lockstep with data growth The extensive interest in Isilon scale-out storage for enterprise IT is being driven in part by the outstanding economics offered by the technology. This paper validates that an Isilon scale-out NAS solution will effectively contribute to reducing cost of ownership for large-scale home directories and provide the following benefits to the organization: Infrastructure management simplified by creating a single file system, volume, and point of control Efficiencies related to disk utilization, replication, backup process, and day-to-day storage management improved Service levels and the ease of change management improved Provisioning and change management accelerated Manual operational tasks such performance tuning, tiering, and volume management eliminated Overall quality of the infrastructure as measured by cost, availability, and performance improved DEFINING OPERATIONAL GOALS OF SCALE-OUT NAS TO MAXIMIZE ROI When defining an organization s operational goals for an enterprise IT scale-out NAS implementation, consideration of one or more of the following attributes is generally warranted to ensure the maximum return on investment: Home directory infrastructure and management costs straining IT budgets Currently manage a large amount of home directory data or an expectation of growth exceeding 20 percent CAGR An existing or foreseen problem in the form of storage inefficiencies, difficulties achieving SLAs, or difficulty provisioning new storage Many companies seeking to reduce cost and complexity as well as improve SLAs turn to EMC Isilon scale-out NAS avoiding the compromises of alternative solutions of clusters of traditional RAID-based scale-up storage. Commonly, Isilon is used to consolidate home directories from as few as two or three filers to environments with more than dozens of filers and petabytes of data. Designed to meet present as well as future performance and capacity needs, Isilon s ease of use, scalable performance, and automated storage tiering can help organizations quickly realize a return on their investment in Isilon. A STUDY IN INCREMENTAL EXPANSION VS. A NEW INVESTMENT IN EMC ISILON Choosing a scale-out NAS product that delivers operational efficiency on any scale is critical to a cost-effective, large-scale home directory solution. The ability to scale performance and capacity is just a starting point for Isilon. Unlike products that use clusters of traditional scale-up RAID systems, where adding more capacity to the platform causes new sets of problems (performance issues, volume and controller imbalances, and poor management economics), Isilon scale-out NAS automatically provisions new capacity, balances utilization and performance, and simplifies the independent retirement of assets as they reach their financial end-of-life while eliminating costly and risky manual data migrations. 2

3 TCO Analysis: Home Directories The following analysis is based on an organization that maintains large numbers of home directories spread across three scale-up filers clustered in a global namespace with a total of 540 TB of raw capacity and supported by three full-time storage admins. The company s home directory data is growing at a 20 percent CAGR. A three-year cost-of-ownership evaluation is applied to determine if a plan to expand their existing storage infrastructure or replacing it with a new EMC Isilon solution will be a more cost-effective investment. Option 1: Expand existing infrastructure One possible option available to this organization would be to continue to expand the existing home directories storage environment by adding NAS filers and capacity to the current cluster to support the growing performance and capacity requirements. The business s assessment of the existing storage environment, along with the necessary acquisitions and administration costs to support the 20 percent CAGR requirement over a three-year period, revealed the following requirements: Raw capacity required would exceed 980 TB Cluster would need to be expanded from three to five filers Four full-time storage admins would be necessary Total expenditures would reach nearly $4M Total management operating costs would exceed $1M Option 2: Replace existing infrastructure with EMC Isilon As an alternative to adding additional infrastructure to the existing storage environment, a new Isilon 570 TB cluster solution is architected to replace the business s current filers and form the infrastructure of growth for its future home directory storage requirements. When compared to putting capital expense into expanding the existing installed storage, an investment in the Isilon solution over a three-year period is shown to provide significant financial benefits including: Capital savings exceeding $800,000 (30 percent savings) Total cost of ownership (TCO) is reduced by 46 percent Capacity managed per admin is increased 75 percent Disk utilization increases from less than 60 percent to 80+ percent Ongoing storage management costs (salaries) decline 73 percent Capital costs of deploying the Isilon infrastructure are offset within a four-month timeframe 3

4 Figure 1 illustrates the EMC Isilon cost-of-ownership benefits over a three-year period for a new, replacement solution in comparison to expansion of the exiting infrastructure. For purposes of simplicity, the cost analysis in this chart focuses on capital expense and management expense and excludes environmental data such as power and floor space expenses. THREE-YEAR COST OF OWNERSHIP Total Management Costs Total Capital Costs $2,767,537 $1,150,116 EXPAND EXISTING STORAGE $775,000 $313,385 NEW EMC ISILON SOLUTION Figure 1. Three-Year Cost-of-Ownership Comparison Equally as notable as the Isilon cost-of-ownership advantage is the cumulative cost comparison of implementing a new Isilon solution. When averaged over three years (Figure 2), investment in Isilon exhibits a gentle expense slope while the alternative expansion plan dramatically ramps expenses year over year. CUMULATIVE ANNUAL EXPENSE COMPARISON YEAR 1 YEAR 2 YEAR 3 Current Plan EMC Isilon Solution Figure 2. Cumulative Annual Expense Comparison 4

5 TCO ADVANTAGE: EMC ISILON This three-year cost of ownership study demonstrates the fundamental financial savings of replacing the existing storage with an investment in the Isilon solution. These savings are a direct result of the Isilon no-compromise scale-out NAS infrastructure and are derived from the following Isilon attributes: Isilon management simplicity Maintaining operating expenses within budgets for large-scale home directories requires that as much of the management burden as possible be lifted from the shoulders of IT administrators to management intelligence embedded within the storage environment. Isilon makes managing home directory growth a part-time job through automated processes that balance internal workloads, optimize capacity, system performance, and provisioning while simplifying services such as thin provisioning, quota management, and the generation of snapshot and replication services for data protection. PLAN: EXPAND CURRENT STORAGE Storage Arrays Storage Admins CURRENT YEAR 1 YEAR 2 YEAR PLAN: NEW ISILON REPLACEMENT CLUSTER Nodes Storage Admins YEAR 1 YEAR 2 YEAR Figure 3. Comparison Data: Storage Management *Based on a fully loaded average IT administrator salary of $102,400/year and a 1% year-over-year salary increase. Isilon Storage Efficiency and SmartPools Automated Tiering Isilon s 80+ percent storage efficiency means an organization can procure less raw storage for an equivalent amount of usable capacity, thereby conserving capital expenditures. In addition, some clustered NAS offerings, like their stand-alone counterparts, do not offer policy-based automated tiering capabilities. Storage admins must then treat all home directory data with the same level of performance and protection, which increases capital expense, or repeatedly dedicate their time to a number of manual processes. The repetitive procedures required to classify an organization s different file types; determine how often they are accessed and what data is no longer a priority; and then manually move them to a more cost-effective tier contribute to escalating operational expenses and inefficient use of capital expenses. 5

6 EMC Isilon SmartPools automatically prioritizes an organization s home directory data into multiple cost/performance tiers based on policies the organization establishes. When home directory data ages or is no longer active, it will automatically be stored on the most cost-effective storage resources. By using the SmartPools automated tiering approach, the organization can prioritize the criticality of the data and associated service levels and ensure that it is only paying for performance storage for priority data that should be rapidly accessible. Using tiered storage in a scale-out NAS infrastructure for home directories optimizes storage capacity and reduces manual processes, which in turn reduces overall expenditures. PLAN: EXPAND CURRENT STORAGE Installed Available CURRENT YEAR 1 YEAR 2 YEAR PLAN: NEW ISILON CLUSTER Installed Available YEAR 1 YEAR 2 YEAR HARDWARE/ SOFTWARE INVESTMENT* EXPAND CURRENT STORAGE NEW EMC ISILON CLUSTER SAVINGS PERCENT REDUCTION $2,767,537 $775,000 $1,992,536 72% Figure 4. Comparison Data: Storage Efficiency *Based on percent available storage to installed storage for the expansion of the current storage of 57.1 percent and 82.7 percent for the new Isilon cluster. SUMMARY Many organizations face the challenge of cost effectively managing rapidly growing home directories and the associated unstructured file data. Users are creating and storing files produced with office productive applications, saving attachments and their own personal files keeping everything in massive amounts. The pace of machine-generated data and its volume is every increasing. Much of this data must be retained ostensibly forever. 6

7 Adding more NAS to support growing home directories is an absolute necessity. Traditional scale-up arrays may be an effective way to deal with growing home directory file data up to a point. Organizations requiring a scalable infrastructure to support their growing home directory requirements will benefit from considering the following guidance: The organization s goals must be clearly understood The solution candidates must deliver the types of financial benefits expected The technical choices must be sound given the workflow profiles, budgets of the organization, and maturity of the solution candidate offerings Home directory infrastructure is a prime area in enterprise IT that exceedingly benefits from Isilon s no-compromise scale-out NAS. This paper has validated that the use of Isilon for large-scale home directories is grounded in solid economics providing compelling capital and operational cost advantages relative to the use of expanding existing technologies to manage growth. For further information on how Isilon scale-out NAS can benefit growing home directory environments, or to request your own TCO analysis based on your organization s current and future requirements, please visit Contact Us To learn more about how EMC Isilon products, services, and solutions can help solve your business and IT challenges, contact your local representative or authorized reseller or visit us at EMC 2, EMC, the EMC logo, Isilon, and SmartPools are registered trademarks or trademarks of EMC Corporation in the United States and other countries. Copyright 2012 EMC Corporation. All rights reserved. Published in the USA. 10/12 EMC Perspective H11178 EMC believes the information in this document is accurate as of its publication date. The information is subject to change without notice.

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