How to Avoid Storage Over-Spending:

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1 How to Avoid Storage Over-Spending: Six Steps to Embracing Storage Efficiency Brought to you by: HighVail Systems High Availability Business Continuity

2 Table of Contents Introduction Confronting Data Centre Challenges Understanding Storage Economics Tiered Storage Architecture and Virtualization Adopting Best Practices Implementation Considerations Leveraging Partners Conclusion 2 2

3 Introduction Storage dynamics are changing with each passing day. As one of the fastest growing data center expenditures, IT managers are struggling to grasp the realities behind storage costs and efficiency. Storage economics has become the order of the day for all configurations, from large scale data centers to computer rooms to closets. While there has been a long standing practice of basing storage performance on the hard costs of disks and components, the realities of virtualization, consolidation and energy efficiency means that this approach falls far short of addressing the total cost of ownership. Today, understanding performance and return on investment is all about climate. Storage dynamics are changing Whether assessing the physical structure of data center operations (storage architectures and space), the business climate (doing more with less) or environmental stewardship (energy efficiency), an efficient storage environment by current standards is one that s flexible and agile enough to respond to changing data, corporate and environmental demands. This White Paper will look at the challenges facing data center managers when it comes to storage proliferation and management. It will also look at a variety of approaches that can be applied to storage management, as well as best practices when planning storage strategies Confronting Data Center Challenges As data demands increase, we are witnessing an escalating proliferation of servers, data and storage devices that are creating financial, technical and environmental nightmares for many enterprises today. Simply put, data centers are getting too crowded, too costly and too complicated. The cost of acquiring and servicing technology is reaching untenable levels. Ongoing management and complexity is making it even more difficult to be efficient with human and fiscal resources. servers 27% storage 23% Industry pundits find at a bare minimum, 50% of computer room space today is devoted to servers (27%) and storage (23%). Even at that, storage represents the fastest growing part of the pie, which means it will soon outstrip other space demands in the very near future. other 50% computer room space 3

4 Archiving requirements and compliance have also put increased demand on storage resources and the need to keep applications for longer periods of time. This has put managers in the position of having to sort out how to move forward while maintaining the status quo. With all these increased capacity requirements, costs will only rise over time even more so when the need for resiliency is factored in. As volumes increase, critical service performance may be compromised if storage is not dealt with effectively. The question that weighs on everyone s mind is how to free up space without incurring risk or losing critical applications or data. Yesterday s processes cannot address the storage demands of today Yet another issue driving up data center costs today is power consumption. Not only are hydro costs on the rise, corporate eco mandates are demanding that operations reduce power consumption. Whereas we once had the luxury of virtually unlimited power supplies, today charges are based on wattage and power consumption patterns, much like what we have seen in residential homes. In the face of all these challenges, it has become all too clear that yesterday s processes cannot address the storage demands of today and the future. Understanding Storage Economics Understanding what data center managers are facing today is just simple economics. Let us consider a few facts: The fastest growing power user within a data center environment is storage most companies are experiencing up to 200% CAGR (compounded annual growth rates). This means that within a five-year period, companies will experience a 10X growth in their power demands. At the same time individual server power consumption is actually decreasing because technology has become more efficient. Storage costs increase with the levels of resiliency required. As compliance demands increase, resiliency needs will only escalate. Critical services depend on secondary services such as data recovery, increasing both storage requirements and costs. The purchase price of equipment (storage devices) represents less than 25% of total cost of ownership. 4

5 Tiered Storage The reality within data centers is that all IT is organic. Whether talking about components or the storage, everything is subject to change. The organic nature of this new reality is leading to an entirely new paradigm in data center architecture and practices. At the same time, the storage world is being flooded with terminology that essentially amounts to the same thing: doing more with less. Concepts such as caching, wide striping, virtualization, consolidation andrepatriation revolve around the need to maximize performance and reliability while minimizing risk and costs. Ultimately the choice relies on an organization s existing infrastructure, its business goals and storage needs in the foreseeable future. There is no single solution that will resolve all data center needs, despite claims to the contrary. Mixing and matching is critical within the organic data center model. The question at the heart of all this is whether an organization is flexible and agile enough to access and/or move data when they need it. Companies can no longer afford to use cheaper silo d storage solutions, since they ultimately lead to greater back end costs when the time comes to scale up. An essential foundation for approaching storage challenges in today s environment is the concept of dynamic multi-tiered storage. This should be a part of any short- or long-term strategy as a means to improve asset utilization and storage efficiencies. With dynamic tiered storage, organizations create a storage pool that contains multiple tiers of storage. In this way, data can be moved transparently between the different tiers, while enabling the acceleration of slower SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drive performance with SSD (Solid State Disk) or caching technologies. The first tier is relegated to the most critical data, while second and third tiers are assigned to secondary data storage requirements. Dynamic provisioning within a virtualized pool provides a significantly higher level of efficiency, while reducing demands on storage requirements and mitigating potential risk. It does this by allowing organizations to virtually allocate storage resources as needed for an application. To maximize the benefits of a tiered storage model, data center managers must understand their application needs and ensure they are properly placed as they go through provisioning, development and testing, pre-production, production, retirement and decommissioning. By way of example, during the provisioning process, it may be preferable to have the data on Tier 2. In the case of archiving, the chance of needing to access data that is more than six months old is minimal. This data can be stored using a combination of disk and tapes, since instantaneous access would not be critical. Managers also need to ensure that protocols and paths to the storage tier are correct. This is a concept that was not uncommon in the mainframe world, but fell out of usage in open systems environments. Other factors to take into consideration include RTO/RPO (recovery time objective/recovery point objective) and replication frequency. 5

6 Architecture and Virtualization Virtualization can play a key part in a tiered storage strategy, since in principle it addresses the 1:1 relationship of equipment to application model. Instead, organizations can create multiple layers of a virtualization framework to address their tiered storage needs. In other words, organizations can take away the need to direct connect servers and storage in order to do more with less. Storage virtualization can be combined with server virtualization. In doing this, managers are able to pool multiple storage pieces into Virtualization lowers power and cooling costs single or multiple devices to enable allocation of capacity to various applications and/or specific sets of data on an as needed basis. Since multiple layers of virtualization can be used at both the server and application level, managers gain even greater flexibility to maximize their data centre usage while reducing operational costs. In addition, since fewer components are required, it also helps to lower power and cooling costs, while taking out the complexities of system management and mitigating risk. Adopting Best Practices Any effective IT strategy is one that applies industry best practices. In brief, managers should follow the following ground rules to ensure they are deriving the greatest value and performance from their storage architecture strategies. Set target objectives. It is important to establish business objectives ahead of time. This may be improving efficiency, reducing costs, doing more with less, creating an eco-friendlier model or all of the above. In identifying objects from the outset, it is easier to pinpoint existing synergies and infrastructure capabilities and capitalize on them before investing in additional technology. Understand total costs. This goes beyond a simple dollar per terabyte approach to include total cost of ownership from planning and deployment, to ongoing management and support. In fact, there are approximately 30 different metrics associated with total cost of ownership. It s also important to keep in mind that while an IT manager may be focusing on capital expenditures, another person in the organization will be playing close attention to operating expenses. Simplify through centralization and virtualization. Storage virtualization can be approached the same way organizations are looking at virtualizing their servers. By creating processes that allow applications to be where they need to be, enterprises can streamline operations, reduce hardware requirements, and minimize complexities. Create processes that move application data through the various tiers during its life cycle. The key is to analyze an application's life cycle and simulate a production environment when doing proofs of concept. This will ensure moving an application to end of life is less costly and data remains highly available. 6

7 Analyze application work patterns to determine the best connectivity for storage access. Categorize applications so they get placed in the proper tier during production periods. Leverage storage pooling to improve efficiencies through wide striping and disk spindle sharing between applications. Engage experienced experts in the field and ask questions. Study what others are doing in this area to determine the best approach. Implementation Considerations To improve data center storage performance, IT managers should also consider the following processes and practices: Agile Storage It is essential that a storage system augments or enhances a storage strategy rather than increases the overall burden within a data center environment. Agile storage takes into account a number of elements, including backup and replication strategies, zero cost cloning practices (i.e. creating copies of production without consuming space) and convergence. Data Deduplication An efficient storage solution has the ability to look for duplicate patterns to ensure that data is stored once instead of many times. For example, attachments sent via are typically saved a minimum of five times, and can be duplicated on purpose as many as eight times. This is in addition to duplications that occur on their own, as in backup functions. This duplication places an incredible strain on networks and storage resources. The only way to resolve them is to look for patterns that happen either during ingestion or post processing of data at the block or file level, thereby freeing up space, while improving overall system performance. 7

8 Thin Provisioning Thin Provisioning, in a shared storage environment, optimizes utilization of available storage. This approach is perhaps best explained using a working example. A customer needed eighty 300GB FC (fibre channel) drives to sustain the required IOPs (input/output operations per second) of an application. This translated into 24TB of RAW capacity: about 18TB was usable. Since the application only required 2TB of storage, this resulted in a 16TB of lost or orphaned storage. By implementing storage pooling, the customer could enable wide striping and acquired higher IOPs, while sharing disk spindles with other applications to improve usability. Purchase Flexibility As requirements and storage strategies change, purchasing agreements should be reviewed carefully and/or modified so that they are designed to reward efficiency. Capital expenditure forms should include a section for environmental impact so that operations can take advantage of economies that are realized through energy and space savings. Usability Test drives and references are absolutely critical to a successful storage strategy. Having a test environment allows managers to get a good look at and feel for a new storage solution. It is essential to ensure that the properly trained technical resources are in place to manage a new storage environment; and that provisioning conforms to agreed upon business processes. Leveraging Partners When developing effective storage strategies and practices, partners can play an important role in supporting the transition to a new environment. Some factors to consider when selecting a partner include: Is there the flexibility to negotiate more competitive rates as opposed to cutting professional services to meet budget constraints? Can the partner work together with an organization to leverage existing equipment and infrastructure resources before making additional capital expenditures? Does the partner offer project management skills? Does the partner have the facilities and/or training to test drive solutions prior to implementation? Will the partner engage in open dialogue? What do other customers have to say about the partner? 8

9 Conclusion As we enter a new era of storage, companies must consider all aspects of efficiency, from capacity and performance to footprint and costs. By combining the right strategies and technologies, the results can exceed expectations. In adopting a combination of storage approaches outlined in this paper, one manufacturer of storage solutions for example was able to increase storage utilization to 90% with top systems attaining 300% utilization. Today, one full-time engineer is able to manage 300TB of data. It has also reduced 80% of rack space and development time in excess of 20%. The journey to this level of efficiency however begins It is not uncommon to see storage expenditures reduced by 50% or more with an understanding of what is in place today, what is available in the market, and bringing the two worlds together to establish the best of both worlds. Rather than turning this into a daunting task, a good approach is to start off with a data project on a small scale to ensure that a plan will reduce expenditures, and then expand on that as comfort levels grow. In our experience it is not uncommon to see storage expenditures reduced by 50% or more, by putting data in the right place, applying strategic workload distribution and mixing workloads to maximize performance, making sure data can move seamlessly between tiers, and leveraging available partnerships. Six Steps to Embracing Storage Efficiency Confront data center challenges: What are the pain points? Understand storage economics: What does your organization have, what s out there, and what is missing? Set target objectives: Know objectives beforehand. Consider if money can be saved/made. Adopt best practices: Store data in the right place at the right time. Implement new technologies and processes: De-dupe, thin provisioning, functional storage. Leverage partners: Know the key factors that need to be considered when engaging with a new partner. 9

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