Run storage as a utility


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In addition to storage resource management (SRM) applications like EMC Corp.'s ControlCenter, HP's Storage Essentials and Symantec Corp.'s Veritas CommandCentral Storage that attempt to address all storage management aspects within a single application, smaller, more targeted applications have found a place in many centralized storage environments, complementing or taking the place of full-blown SRM apps. Akorri Inc.'s BalancePoint for performance management, MonoSphere Inc.'s Storage Horizon for storage capacity management, Onaro Inc.'s SANscreen for SLA and change management, and TeraCloud Corp.'s Storage Analytics for storage utilization analysis are a few of the examples of tools companies have deployed for storage management and reporting (see "

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Besides simplified administration and the ability to standardize storage throughout the enterprise, the biggest incentive to running storage like a utility is the cost savings in procuring and maintaining storage. One of the big drawbacks of storage silos in the form of DAS, or SAN and NAS islands, is that disks and arrays are dedicated to a single server or department; regardless of how much available storage there is, it can't be extended beyond its dedicated use, resulting in dismal overall storage utilization. With centralized storage run like a utility, storage is provisioned from a storage pool and utilization is determined by how much spare capacity is needed. "We were able to increase storage utilization from under 60% to over 90%," says NMHC Systems' Deck.

Determining how much spare capacity is required is very company specific, and the amount of spare capacity should be based on a combination of historical storage growth and storage forecasts. "In the past, we bought storage ad hoc and we were 95% reactive; now, we extend storage based on annual forecasts and we are 95% proactive, and we almost never have to procure storage ad hoc," says Dan Trim, director of information technology infrastructure support at Health Alliance Plan of Michigan in Detroit.

This was first published in December 2007

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