Traditionally, storage array disk utilization rates at most companies hovered in the 30% to 50% range. That might have been fine when there was still plenty of floor space in the data center and data storage managers were flush with ample budgets. But the space is going -- or gone -- and the days of big budgets seem like distant memories while the amount of data we need to store is growing at an unprecedented pace. The old ways just won’t work anymore.
If necessity is the mother of invention, she’s been pretty busy lately coaxing along a number of key technologies that promise more efficient use of storage resources.
One of the first attempts at getting the most out of installed disk capacity was thin provisioning, with 3PAR credited as its pioneer and chief promoter for open storage systems. Although some data storage vendors might have been reluctant to offer a feature that could put off purchases, most now support thin provisioning in one form or another. Thin provisioning may not help you avoid buying additional capacity, but it can push those purchases down the road to when prices have fallen further and newer technologies are available.
Data reduction in primary storage is another important storage efficiency innovation. Data reduction is actually an umbrella term that can include data deduplication, single instancing and compression. Riding the wave of its success in significantly paring down disk-based backup data, data reduction is beginning to show up in primary and near-line storage. Although the reduction ratios for primary storage aren’t likely to approach the lofty numbers racked up by backup dedupe, there’s still a strong appeal -- and potentially huge savings -- in trimming current data down to size.
Back when money grew on trees, storage managers may have adopted some less-than parsimonious storage management habits, like letting not so-critical data stay on expensive primary disk. You knew it didn’t belong there, but who had the time to determine what belonged where? With a deluge of new data pouring in daily, the question of where information should reside has taken on a new urgency. Automated tiering systems attempt to address the issue with as little manual intervention as possible, helping to neutralize the “who has time” argument. In a handful of systems today, but spreading rapidly, automated tiering systems move data around dynamically based on the application it’s attached to and its frequency of use.
In this Essential Guide to Efficient Storage Management, you’ll find detailed information on these storage management solutions and other technologies that are designed to make better use of your data storage and help you become a better storage manager.
--Rich Castagna, Editorial Director of the Storage Media Group
TABLE OF CONTENTS: ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO EFFICIENT STORAGE MANAGEMENT
Plan for primary dedupe: Storage capacity optimization technologies such as deduplication and compression have traditionally been aimed at reducing the amount of backups a company has, and they’ve been successful. But now the market is shifting; data reduction technologies are now being geared toward primary storage. But even though it’s a growing market, there are many things you need to watch out for when planning to dedupe your primary storage.
Manage less data, and manage it better: One of the most effective storage management solutions is to reduce your data, not delete it. Data deduplication, compression, snapshots and thin provisioning are four popular data reduction techniques. Find out how they can help make your storage more efficient.
Dynamic storage tiers: Dynamic storage tiering (DST) is a good storage management solution to implement in your environment, but there are many different products to choose from, and these products differ in functions and capabilities. DST products have one central goal: to lower storage costs. But some products have added capabilities such as overcoming performance problems and options for incorporating cloud storage in your environment. Learn about the different DST products available and find out which one suits your storage environment.
Channel spin: Plan for capacity growth: In a virtual server environment, storage efficiency and capacity planning aren’t any easier than in a nonvirtualized environment. There are multiple hosts and applications storage managers must deal with, making things complicated. Follow these four steps for better storage efficiency techniques and capacity planning in a virtual server environment.
This was first published in August 2011