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Shopping for storage: One vendor or more?

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New approaches
Besides virtualization and thin provisioning, there are other technologies that can lower storage costs. Specifically, ILM and the tiered storage that accompanies it may allow storage managers to take maximum advantage of the price/performance characteristics of various types of storage, effectively lowering overall storage costs.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center believes it can save big through ILM and tiered storage. When a patient enters the hospital for treatment, medical data is critical and must be kept where it's immediately available. That requires high-performance, high-cost storage with 99.999% availability. Shortly after the patient has been discharged, the same data can be safely shipped off to lower cost, lower performing storage.

"The key to saving money is to determine what data needs five-nines and what needs three-nines," says the hospital's Halamka. Having made those determinations, "I now have clouds of different classes of storage allocated as needed based on the service level required," he says. That allows him to buy less of the highest-priced EMC storage.

In the end, there's no inclusive best way to reduce storage costs. If people resources are limited and storage skills are hard to come by, stick with one vendor and improve your negotiation skills. If you have multiple storage vendors, strive for as much compatibility as possible between platforms and look for cross-platform management tools that provide a

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common look and feel, as well as broad hardware support. In all cases, try to categorize your data according to required service levels to reduce the need for the most costly storage. And never pay list price. "Even an idiot can get a 20% discount," says Kilcourse.

This was first published in February 2006

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