Run storage as a utility


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Although the majority of people and process issues occur while transitioning toward centralized storage, they continue to be relevant once the new storage infrastructure is in place. Refining processes and ensuring that service levels are met takes an ongoing effort. Users are tempted to associate centrally provided storage services with "free storage," which could lead to wasteful storage-usage behavior that counteracts one of the main purposes of centralized storage: lowering overall storage costs. Therefore, making users aware of the cost of the storage they consume through chargeback or cost reports is pertinent. "One of the surprises and main challenges since we centralized storage has been a change in users' attitudes toward storage; as they didn't have to pay for it directly, the amount of disk space they used increased significantly," says NMHC Systems' Deck.

Is chargeback necessary?
In environments that charge storage services back to end users, and where cost and storage services are measured by meeting negotiated SLAs, staffing is a very important factor. "If you charge for your services, you need to keep cost and services closely aligned; it definitely has an impact on staffing, as better controls are required," says StorageIO Group's Schulz.

To ensure uninterrupted availability, redundancy is another key attribute of a centralized

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storage service. From storage controllers, disks and RAID levels to servers and connectivity, most aspects of the storage infrastructure need to be designed with redundancy. Backups and disaster recovery need to be architected so that storage services can resume with minimal service interruption. Meeting negotiated recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) is also essential.

Besides more stringent storage hardware requirements, storage management software harnessed to manage, monitor and analyze the storage infrastructure is indispensable in a centralized storage model. "Having HP Storage Essentials as the single tool for all storage management tasks not only gives us a single view into all aspects of our storage infrastructure, it ensures that all storage management tasks are performed the same way," says Deck.

This was first published in December 2007

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