How to Calculate the Hidden Costs of Storage System Downtime

by Mike McNamara, NetApp

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Eliminate planned downtime. Calculate your total savings with this online calculator.

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Eliminating storage downtime remains a top priority for enterprise IT professionals, according to a recent survey by NetApp. In fact, a majority of respondents said even limited system outages due to planned maintenance had become unacceptable for many of their business-critical applications. Perhaps most surprising were the hidden costs associated with storage maintenance operations—costs that can be avoided by deploying storage systems running the NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP® operating system.

Based on survey data, customer feedback and industry sources, we developed a simple calculator to estimate the savings that can be achieved by eliminating planned and unplanned storage system downtime. The calculator identifies the savings by use case and also categorizes total savings as follows:

  • Savings in operating expenses, such as eliminating the need for planned downtime.
  • Savings in capital expenses, such as using a single highly available infrastructure to consolidate multiple workloads.
  • Savings from enabling critical maintenance activities that reduce the risk of an unplanned system outage.

The following example shows the savings identified by a multinational business services organization that has standardized on clustered Data ONTAP to deliver nondisruptive operations for a business-critical SAP® environment:

Output example: Total savings by use case and category.

Finding the Hidden Downtime Costs
In this example, the big savings came from improved utilization, tech refresh operations and the reduced risk of unplanned downtime. More than half of the savings from improved utilization were due to operating expense savings—the annual cost of day-to-day management of system and storage operations by IT staffs. Of that amount, roughly $45,000 was saved by eliminating the time required to negotiate downtime across the extended IT team.

It turns out that this example is not an isolated case. Time and again, we’ve found that the process of planning for downtime consumes more staff resources than the time required to perform actual maintenance operations. In this example, eliminating planned downtime freed up a total of 600 hours of IT staff time per year.

Another commonly overlooked savings category is risk reduction due to the elimination of deferred maintenance. With clustered Data ONTAP, maintenance can be performed behind the scenes while the storage systems continue to serve data. By performing critical maintenance operations without delay, software and firmware updates can be applied to maintain system health and reduce the risk of an unplanned outage.

White Paper: Nondisruptive Operations and Clustered Data ONTAP

Inputs Needed for the Online Calculator
The online version of the calculator has been simplified so that only six inputs are required, as listed below (values from the example are shown in parentheses).

  1. Current number of high-availability (HA) storage controller pairs (3)
  2. Total number of storage administrators (2)
  3. Total number of application administrators (10)
  4. Total number of release/program managers (1)
  5. Average number of applications hosted per HA storage controller pair (25)
  6. Used capacity as a percentage of usable capacity (55%)

Calculating Return on Investment (ROI) for Storage Systems
The cost of storage system downtime is one of many factors that should be considered when making your next storage investment. NetApp storage experts can provide a comprehensive ROI analysis for your specific environment to help you assess all of the financial aspects of your next storage investment. 


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