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Keep end-user storage in check

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To cut costs and better manage corporate data, more companies are putting quotas on the amount of storage they allocate to users.


Enforcing end-user storage quotas is getting tougher as free Web e-mail accounts, such as Google's Gmail, give each user up to 2GB of free storage. This makes typical corporate disk quotas of 50MB to 100MB look paltry by comparison. However, more companies are starting to use quotas to not only reduce costs, but to get better control over where corporate data is stored.

"I'm expecting people to start telling me about Google any day," says John Formet, senior system administrator at The Golf Channel, an Orlando, FL-based cable TV producer and broadcaster. The Golf Channel limits its 350 users to 100MB of personal disk space, and is wrestling with skyrocketing storage demands due to rapid company growth. "We have quadrupled our storage in the last six months," notes Formet, leading the company to migrate to a new SAN.

Knology Inc., a managed service provider in West Point, GA, limits its customers to 25MB each, but that may have to change. "Google and Yahoo! may be forcing our hand," says Bradley Frye, senior manager of data network operations.

"This issue [of limiting end-user storage] has been around for 25 years," says Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, a Boulder, CO, research firm. "There's only so much storage at any given time, and IT managers are forced to enforce

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sometimes hidebound rules."

Like arguments with teenagers over curfews, conflicts over end-user disk quotas may be symptomatic of a more serious underlying problem. "The real problem is the amount of data on corporate storage that shouldn't be there," says Karp. "Some managers tell me that over half the data they store has no corporate value."

Limiting the amount of storage available to end users opens a Pandora's box of underlying issues: the cost difference between raw storage capacity and deploying and managing storage; classifying data in terms of corporate value and importance; and whether valuable corporate data is being inappropriately stored in personal storage folders. It also brings up the question of whether the organization should back up data stored in personal folders.

"These aren't easy issues," says Richard Villars, IDC's vice president, storage systems research. "The whole topic of disk quotas is really a behavioral discussion, not a technical discussion." Technically, disk quotas are simple to set up and manage.

This was first published in May 2006

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