Friday, 8 January 2010

Measuring the cost of storage

2010 begins, the promise of innovative new technologies and further development / extensions on current product sets. High on the agenda of any storage manager are how to stop this mad growth of disk that is consumed, key topics / technologies being discussed are:
  • De-Duplication
  • Compression
  • Thin Provision
  • Fat-To-Thin provision
  • Storage Virtualisation
  • Automated tiering at the block / file system level
  • Tiering within the application layer (read database)
  • and the list continues....

Some of these products are maturing quite nicely from various vendors providing some real business value, be it in the end-cost to the business, extending the life of our DC's or just a quicker time to market...


Obviously, all of the above functionality comes at a cost as we would expect (and no IT manager minds paying for these type of features as long as he / she can reap the reward after implementation) and therein lies the problem....we get to the age-old method of measuring how cheap (or expensive) our cost of storage procurement and ongoing run-rate....


Lets all stop thinking about $/TB of the tin...

Vendor sales teams - please please please stop telling me what a great cost of physical tin i am getting, and that the $/TB cost I am getting is fantastic... I want to know logical data storage and get a per TB cost of that...

Procurement Dept's - please please please stop thinking that $/TB is the way to measure how succesful we have been at maintaining (or bringing down) cost of storage - we need to get smarter with how we manage technology vendors and the value add that they offer.

IT Mangers - the trick here is to do more with less, not work everything out on the cost of procurement on your particular flavour of tin - the smart stuff is in the software - and you peeps need to recognise this... its what is gonna stop our hardware costs spiralling out of control...

So... what does all of this mean, well for one definte - we need to get a lot smarter at working out how much of this new smart storage we need to buy and this brings on another intersting little problem - measurement....


Storage Vendors - you need to give us some new and shiny ways of measuring the value you are bringing so we can justify usage of some of these new toolsets (and the uplift in cost)... An example - A certain CAS offering that has been out for some time (vendor / product shall remain nameless) done a pretty good job of de-duplicating at the object level - and we knew it did a decent job... then management asked "how good, and show us" - guess what we couldnt.. There was no tooling to show what had been de-duplicated and how much logical (virtual) space had been consumed and how much physical provisioned had been used... (this issue may have been fixed on the latest iteration of code - i havent checked yet).


Imagine how good both the vendor and storage dept would have looked if we had told them that 2pb of storage had been crunched down to 500TB by use of technology - everyone would have looked a winner! instead - numbers on gut feel (and by the way - i dont want to get into the game of comparing host reports on file systems etc against physical provisioned - i want it all measured at the storage layer!)


We need effective tools to measure, prove value and stop working on this $/TB for physical tin and start focusing on driving cost down and telling us after de-dupe / compression (and any other technology you care to mention) what the cost of information stored is in terms of $ value


Bottom line - we need to get out of the game of $/TB (value against tin) - talk to me about $ / TB of data stored....


S.

2 comments:

  1. one of the best articles on this subjesct i have read, if only more IT depts were as forward thinking and not just interested in the cost per pound!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice post. I totally agree fwiw. I must say though if you are doing the shopping you are in the minority in terms of your position. I seem to spend tonnes of time trying to move people toward THINKING like this... I find I have the time to take conversations this way with with folk you know well but tender after tender after is just price price price - no one pausing to consider actual value. But we're just the little guys... wtf do we know right... That 80Squillion liability insurance criteria tends to preclude us from owt juicy...
    I wrote an short presentation on the issues I find with most IT depts difficulties in getting proper recognition and free reign - it is fairly critical of general IT community - but I can see what you mean re procurement input and I have come across this in tenderLAND. That said If you get a mo you might want to check it out... at http://tinyurl.com/y95w98h

    ReplyDelete