Let's look closer at real problems that administrators have to deal with that consolidation solves:
How do you back up hundreds of servers?
How do you insure efficient utilization? With separate storage on each server none of the sharing and protection is available that consolidated storage offers. There are no economies of scale. If one server needs additional disk, it is of no help that another server is underutilized. Sometimes -- in order to address hundreds of GB of storage, it is necessary to add a server -- just to obtain the slot space to connect to the required disk capacity. The drawing below illustrates an example of how utilization between servers with different kinds of RAID storage can vary. The cylinders represent different types of server platforms and a typical pattern of utilization. Without a consolidated storage pool, unused space from one type of platform could not be allocated to another. Data consolidation can also provide economies of asset utilization not available with standalone servers. If disks can be allocated dynamically, servers get only the storage they need. Utilization efficiencies of disk space goes way up. And spares are available to all the servers on the system.
How do you reduce storage management costs? According to a study performed by Cahners In-Stat Group, the cost of managing storage has risen to 91% of the cost of the media, or about $3.50 per year per megabyte. While this trend is staggering, what's even more troubling is the fact that most companies are running at 40% utilization--for every $1 spent on storage assets, $0.60 is wasted.
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This was first published in October 2002