10 Tips for Reducing Storage TCO
by Yuval Zohar - Director of Product Management, StoreAge Networking Technologies - Monday, 7 August 2006.
Relying on big vendors to design and implement your storage systems is often considered a safe approach. However, it allows vendors to take control over your storage systems and budget. New products on the market have reached maturity levels which enable administrators to resume control over their storage systems’ design and significantly reduce costs. This article will describe 10 ways to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership using the available tools.

1. Use Heterogeneous Storage

Vendor lock-in is a major contributor to the cost of storage systems. Often organizations find themselves dependent upon their storage vendor not only for the sake of providing the storage systems, but also to design the Storage Area Network (SAN). It is only natural for storage providers to recommend solutions that are profitable for them — leveraging the fact that lack of competition drives up prices.

Many vendors nowadays propose storage virtualization solutions enabling organizations to work seamlessly with heterogeneous storage devices.

In some cases, storage vendors attempt to intimidate customers with a threat of revoking their warranty and/or ceasing to support them if they use heterogeneous storage. However, when the customer insists, an offer to use the vendor’s storage virtualization solution is typically offered. One major concern with using heterogeneous storage is the interoperability of storage services software such as snapshots and mirroring. Therefore, it is recommended to select a storage virtualization solution that also supports storage services for heterogeneous storage.

2. Use Multi-Tiered Storage Devices

Every organization puts multiple applications in use, each has different storage requirements. For example, ERP software which is the core of many businesses may require very fast and reliable storage devices. Email systems may require mid-tier storage devices and development applications may use lower-tier storage. The costly solution, which is often suggested by storage vendors and integrators, is to place all data on the high-end storage devices. The outcome is a redundant cost of storage for applications that do not require high-end storage systems. In some cases, the argument used is that “we have spare capacity on the high-end device”. However, when a real need for high-end capacity arises, the extra storage space is already occupied.

The cost of storage can be easily reduced by checking the availability and performance requirements for storage - leaving you the freedom of choice, to purchase only what you need. Since storage requirements may change over time (e.g., the Information Lifecycle Management – ILM) it is also recommended to have an on-line volume migration application for moving volumes from one storage device to another, while applications are up and running. Obviously this software must be able to migrate between storage devices from different vendors.

3. Allocate Storage According to Actual Requirements

Storage allocation is a complex task, resulting in storage administrators allocating storage based upon applications’ growth estimations. This often leads organizations to purchase much more storage than is actually needed at the time of implementation. Over time, some applications may require more than was initially allocated for them and others may have extra capacity which cannot be reclaimed.

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