Best Practices: The year ahead: Green power, weak dollars and more apps


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In 2008, are you willing to spend money to save money?

By the time this article is published, most of you will have returned to work after a holiday break and settled down for the year ahead. Considering this is my first 2008 column, I decided to write about some areas that will take center stage this year. For the most part, things will continue to chug along at the same pace they did in 2007, but the sluggish economy means that many storage organizations may see their budgets tightening. At the same time, new initiatives such as green data centers should have an impact on how money is spent.

Technology refresh
Several vendors have launched new products to refresh their product portfolio. EMC updated its DMX line, while Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) announced the "V," "VM" and "SMS" platforms. With a few exceptions, most of these are incremental updates. Because of acquisitions, other vendors dropped several redundant products from their portfolios. For example, Brocade announced it would drop certain McData products in favor of its legacy ones.

I see two categories of IT departments this year: those who will sign up for a technology refresh and those who feel their last upgrades were extensive enough to let them sit tight in 2008. For IT departments that have marked 2008 as the year to upgrade, it could be a mixed bag. New technology is like

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the latest toy--it offers a fresh set of features to utilize. However, being an early adopter has risks such as compatibility issues and/or unavailability of the features you currently have on the existing platform. Many vendors announce a refresh with fine print stating delayed availability for certain new or improved features. Whatever the reason for the upgrade, make sure you'll benefit from it.

Also expect accelerated adoption of updated speeds and feeds for IP and Fibre Channel (FC) SANs. Vendors now offer cards and ports that work at (faster) full line speeds, so selective updates may allow you to update only those components that provide benefits to servers that can push the real-life maximum of a storage port or host bus adapter (HBA). The rule of two (i.e., two HBAs per server) used to work well because most servers could hardly push anywhere close to 200MB/sec. With the advent of faster CPUs, backplanes and buses, that rule needs to be revisited. When systems are refreshed, ensure there's adequate bandwidth between the servers and storage.

This was first published in February 2008

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