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Special Supplement: 10 ways to trim storage costs

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Storage August 2006 Special Supplement

8) Don't overlook small vendors.
Weigh the pros and cons of working with a startup vendor. Small vendors are eager for your business, so they often provide exceptional support. And you may have greater input and leverage concerning the future direction and features of their products than if you dealt with a larger, more established vendor. Working with a startup isn't without its hazards, however. The startup may be purchased by a larger storage vendor that isn't on your company's preferred vendor list, it may lack the resources to keep its product current or it could go out of business.

9) Creative staffing.
Personnel costs consume the largest piece of your storage budget. To lower these costs, hire an intern to monitor backups. This can be a win for you, the intern and the company. While the intern is keeping an eye on day-to-day operations, you can concentrate on performance and efficiency issues in your storage and backup environments. Check with your local community college to see if they have a storage-specific curriculum. Work with the instructors to see which student may be a good fit with your needs and the company's culture.

Backups can consume much of your time and money. In the long run, it may be less costly to forego hiring backup specialists and to outsource this aspect of your storage infrastructure. There are

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plenty of outsourcing companies that can take over your backup operations.

10) Virtualization.
If i had to pick one technology to save your firm money, it would be host OS virtualization. The majority of the open systems installed today run on x86 CPU architecture systems. VMware (ESX, GSX Workstation), Microsoft Corp. (Virtual Server, Virtual PC) and the open-source Xen allow you to run multiple hosts on a single system, which reduces the number of servers you need to buy and support.

Storage virtualization can provide similar benefits. There are different forms of disk virtualization, but each technique creates a single storage pool from different subsystems. Disk virtualization can dramatically raise capacity levels on all of the storage subsystems within the storage pool.

Another form of virtualization is a virtual tape subsystem, which originated in the mainframe world more than 10 years ago. Before mainframe tape virtualization, approximately 10% of the average tape surface was used. After implementing mainframe tape virtualization, average usage increased to more than 60%. While open-systems tape virtualization may not produce the same level of savings, there are other reasons to give it serious consideration. Open-systems tape virtualization offers a boost in performance and the ability to share a tape robotic system with multiple servers and backup products. Most open-systems tape virtualization technologies use SATA disk as a cache or for permanent storage.

This was first published in August 2006

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