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Here are some tips for using these new tools most effectively (see "Quick list: Efficiency options," below).

Quick list: Efficiency options

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These technologies can help you run a more efficient storage shop by making better use of your already installed capacity.

Efficiency technology

What it does

How you save

Archiving

Moves older data out of production data stores

  • Frees expensive primary disk space
  • Back up less data
  • Speeds applications

Compression and data deduplication

Reduces amount of data stored on disk

  • Redundant files eliminated
  • Individual files take up less space
  • Only unique data is stored
  • Backups require much less disk space

Thin provisioning

Let's you "oversubscribe" your installed disk capacity

  • Avoids wasteful unused space in allocated volumes
  • Pools available installed capacity so that it's used more efficiently with higher utilization rates
  • Delays new disk purchases

Tiered storage

Moves less valuable data to cheaper, lower performance disk

  • Takes less-demanding apps' data off primary storage to avoid/delay buying more tier 1 disk
  • Preserves high-performance storage for apps that require it
  • Reduces backups by not backing up static data as frequently

Wide striping

Spreads data out across more disks

  • Gets better performance out of inexpensive disks
  • Avoids or delays buying expensive higher performance disk storage

Data archiving

Moving less important data to slower, and less expensive, storage media is a mature and well-established cost-cutting technique, with more than 75% of respondents to Symantec's survey archiving email and files or planning to do so. What's new is that many are combining archiving with data deduplication and other techniques for greater efficiency.

At Health Alliance Plan of Michigan in Detroit, Dan Trim's storage budget has been falling for the last eight years, but data archiving has cut storage growth rates from as high as 48% down to a much more manageable 14%. Trim, the health insurer's director of infrastructure technology, was pleased with how Symantec's Veritas CommandCentral Storage, among other tools, gave him "a deeper look" into how he was using his storage and "how to back up files over a certain age, get them off to tape, offsite and off my disk," he said.

Perry Fritz, enterprise operations manager at Rockline Industries Inc. in Sheboygan, Wis., estimates he has saved approximately $20,000 in disk arrays since he started archiving the company's email files with managed services provider Mimecast in June 2008. The paper goods manufacturer moved into archiving not to reduce its storage needs, but to speed email retrieval for legal or other purposes. It chose a hosted service because it was less expensive than purchasing archiving hardware for each of its three sites, and provided a central archive point for its 200 GB to 300 GB of email data. The savings on disk purchases, along with the disaster recovery (DR) capabilities, has been one of the "added benefits" of going with a managed storage service.

This was first published in September 2009

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