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New Pricing Schemes Aim For Lower Storage Costs

Could pay-for-use pricing save you money?

Changes are afoot in the way you can pay for your storage--at least if you're an EMC or Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks XP 128 or 1024 customer. EMC has introduced an automated version of its OpenScale capacity-on-demand program, while HP has tweaked its pay-per-use plan, where customers pay a fixed monthly fee, plus a fee based on metered usage of its disk consumption.

Under HP's new program, customers will pay no more than it would cost to lease an equivalent system, and will not be penalized if they fail to increase their capacity. EMC's OpenScale now features agentless collector technology that relieves EMC technicians from having to go to the customer site to assess usage.

HP has also added enhanced metering capabilities that let managers track utilization over the Web. That's provided through OpenView Storage Area Manager, included as part of the program. According to Gary Wright, HP vice president, network storage services, the company "hopes this will become the new model for buying storage," and has plans to extend the plan to its EVA line.

But there are downsides to pay-for-use pricing, says Craig Nunes, senior director of marketing at 3PAR. The company's InServ Storage Server competes with arrays like the XP. While it can help you reduce your procurement costs, and insulate you from sudden spikes in storage consumption, "there is a cost to having their inventory sitting at your site that they pass back to the customer, one way or another," for example, by charging more for disk drives.

Nor does pay-per-use do anything to address why storage is so expensive, Nunes says: Applications are vastly over-provisioned. To that end, 3PAR is offering its customers a new option called Thin Provisioning, a virtualization-based technology that allocates capacity to an application as it's needed, in 16K chunks. The result? "We're going to sell a whole lot less disk drives," Nunes predicts--something larger array vendors are loathe to do.

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