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


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Another technology to watch is ATA over Ethernet (AoE). The rise of Linux and the need for low-cost storage has resulted in AoE getting high praise. The technology brings with it open-source AoE tools, and storage from vendors such as Coraid that's relatively cheap and easier to deploy than FC or iSCSI. Coraid claims the deployment cost of AoE is less than $0.64/GB.

The green revolution
It was only a matter of time before the green initiative hit the data center. Systems and CPU vendors tout the "green footprints" of their products. Systems virtualization further reduces that footprint by decreasing the number of physical servers deployed. The focus has shifted to storage and will make a noticeable impact this year. Unfortunately, reducing power footprints isn't easy, especially when the appetite for consuming storage isn't going down. Power reduction may be achieved by using denser disks, using slower disks where appropriate (by implementing effective storage tiering) and by thin provisioning. Vendors such as 3PAR, Compellent and now HDS with its V platform offer thin provisioning that allows storage to be oversubscribed. This won't drastically reduce the carbon footprint of your storage environment, but we all have to start somewhere.

If you're upgrading your systems, power and heat consumption should make it to the top of your list of important criteria. I believe

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environmental issues will bubble to the top of most vendors' marketing messages and will eventually force them to improve their products. Disk vendors will also be forced to introduce drives that consume less power and generate less heat. It shouldn't be that difficult to take a cue from CPU manufacturers!

Storage as a Service
Storage as a hosted service isn't new; almost all major players (both storage and nonstorage related) have offered it at some time. Some companies even made a business out of it before going under. The business almost went extinct, but seems to be making a comeback.

I'm not saying everyone will jump into storage as a service, but this could very well be the year that redefines the market. It will likely start with consumer products and services, and eventually make its way to small- to medium-sized businesses and then perhaps to the enterprise. There are plenty of things to be resolved--chief among them being security--but nothing is impossible. If the cost of managing storage in-house is a big burden to your organization, this may become an attractive option as the offerings mature.

So that's what to expect this year. The industry could have a surprise in store for 2008 that would make for a fantastic splash. But if history is any indication, storage professionals will take measured steps in adopting newer technologies, waiting until they're tried and tested, especially when some economic indicators have people watching their wallets. If it's any consolation, at least we have the Olympics to watch for excitement.

This was first published in February 2008

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