Making the best possible use of resources is critical in today's resource-constrained environment. Asking these questions won't automatically make your storage systems more efficient, but answering them will help guide you in the eternal quest to do more with what you've got.
- Do you have a storage plan for your enterprise?
Planning is central to any kind of efficiency in an organization.
- Do you review your storage strategy regularly to make sure it stays in sync with your enterprise's changing goals and strategies?
Things change -- that's true for an organization as a whole and the storage that supports it. Once a year or so, you should take a look at what your company is doing now and how that matches up with your storage plan. Above all, "efficiency" means efficiently supporting your enterprise.
- Do you track storage statistics and keep historical records to help spot trends?
Next to planning, knowledge is the most important element in building storage efficiency. While the numbers gathered by programs, like iostat, are important, the trends in those numbers are often more important because they let you head off trouble, rather than just having to respond to it.
- What are your organization's three storage hot spots?
You should know or be able to find out immediately.
- What were the hot spots a year ago?
Typically, hot spots change over time as needs change and equipment is added. If you're still battling the same three issues you were fighting a year ago, you may need to rethink what you're doing.
- Have you standardized your storage hardware?
Standardizing, within reason, improves efficiency and cuts costs.
- Have you centralized storage management?
As much as possible you should be able to manage all your storage from one location using one storage management system.
- Do you know the percentage of unused storage on each of your systems?
Note that unused storage is different from unallocated storage and the gap between the two can be a significant piece of planning information. If you have a lot of allocated but unused storage, you probably have an opportunity to improve your storage efficiency.
- Can you quickly and easily reallocate storage resources to different applications, departments and lines of business?
- Do you substitute automated processes for people wherever possible?
While you can manage most storage operations manually with the aid of a few scripts, that's generally inefficient. People are perhaps the most expensive resource you have, and to get the most out of them you should automated processes as much as possible. This is especially true of routine tasks, like provisioning and deprovisioning. However, this applies to all levels of storage management. Don't neglect the use of tools, like set points and automated analytics, to speed up analysis.
About the author: Rick Cook specializes in writing about issues related to storage and storage management.