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Storage efficiency and data center optimization

Optimizing the data center is a major initiative for most IT operations. Optimization includes using resources more effectively, adding more efficient systems with greater capabilities and consolidating systems using virtualization and advanced technologies.

The goals for optimization are reducing cost and increasing the operational efficiency. Capital cost savings come from getting more effective use of what has been purchased and operational cost savings come from reducing administration and physical resources such as space, power, and cooling. Optimized operations make IT staffs more capable of addressing the demands for business expansion or consolidation.

Along with server virtualization, storage efficiency is a major focus area for data center optimization (DCO) initiatives because of the opportunity for major savings. This Evaluator Group article provides an IT perspective on measuring efficiency. Storage efficiency can be accomplished in the following ways:

• Making greater use of storage capacity through data reduction technologies (compression and deduplication) and allocation of capacity as needed (thin provisioning).
• Supporting more physical capacity for a storage controller by enabling greater performance from the controller.
• Increasing performance and responsiveness of a storage system with storage tiering and intelligent caching using solid-state technology.
• Improving data protection with advanced snapshot and replication technologies and data reduction prior to transferring data.
• Scaling of capacity and performance in equal proportion (scale out) to support greater consolidation and growth.
• Providing greater automation to minimize administrative requirements.

DCO requires a strong overall strategy. Storage has a regular cadence of technology transition and product replacement, and DCO requires adding products and upgrading systems already in place. Evaluating the best product to meet requirements is a major part of the execution of the plan. There are many complex factors to consider and the decisions are not straightforward.

As DCO initiatives continue, storage efficiency will remain a competitive battleground for vendors and an opportunity for customers.

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).

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