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Improving storage efficiency in data storage equipment a complex task, but getting easier

The process of improving the storage efficiency and power consumption of data storage equipment is a complicated one, with a variety of factors to consider.

While there's plenty of talk about data center efficiency and the rising cost of energy for data storage equipment power and cooling, saving power takes a back seat to other priorities at many IT shops. That can be partly blamed on the complex path to storage efficiency and power savings. Many users are now comparing the power usage data of different vendors' equipment, and there are a variety of technologies to chip away at the energy consumption problem, all with varying results for different aspects of the storage lifecycle. Emerging and receding technologies are also constantly changing the power consumption landscape, and some techniques that carried big promise have faced the critical light of real-world use. In spite of these obstacles, the energy use problem must still be addressed. Fortunately, help is on the horizon from the EPA, sophisticated data reduction and utilization tools, and more efficient storage tiers. Read on for our full examination of storage equipment power efficiency.

 Energy Star storage, storage efficiency technologies ease power burden of data storage equipment
IT organizations wanting to make intelligent choices about storage equipment purchases based on their power consumption have long been hampered by the effort required to compile and analyze energy use data from different vendors. That chore is due to get easier within a year when the EPA releases its Energy Star-qualified list of data storage equipment, which will make it as easy to compare the power consumption of storage arrays as it is to compare refrigerators. The agency is even considering reporting thermal information about hardware to help optimize heating and cooling of data centers. In the meantime, there are plenty of opportunities to conserve power, reduce cooling needs and save money with existing systems using a combination of storage efficiency technologies such as data deduplication, compression, snapshots, thin provisioning, virtualization, energy-efficient disks, tiered storage and drive spin-down. Read about the EPA's plans for Energy Star storage and learn strategies for saving money with storage efficiency technologies.

 Data reduction techniques for better storage efficiency
The first step in reducing a company's storage footprint should be deletion of files, according to analysts. While automated data retention policies help with that chore, some companies leave the deletion to users. In that case, you can simply tell them to delete unneeded data, and when they don't comply, up the ante by making the archiving process difficult. Only then should you bring in the big data reduction and efficiency guns: dedupe, compression, snapshots and thin provisioning. Find out how one company is leaning on users to cut down on capacity use, as well as a quick explanation of what the four types of efficiency tools do.

 SAS and SATA, solid-state storage lower data center power consumption
The classic tiered storage structure, with Fibre Channel disk at the top followed by SAS and SATA disk, is shifting toward greater power efficiency. Power-hungry Fibre Channel is nearing the end of the road as a disk interface, and power-efficient solid-state storage is emerging as a cost-effective, tier 0 medium in certain uses. What that means for storage managers is that, in the not-too-distant future, it will become easier to optimize data storage equipment for power efficiency. Read about how the tiered model will change and how automated storage tiering technologies are set to take advantage of the new structure.

 Disk spin-down: Power savings with a catch
It is definitely possible to cut disk power usage using disk spin-down, or MAID, technology. But MAID carries trade-offs in terms of disk spin-up time when data is accessed, as well as potential time-outs when copying big files. In some cases, the trade-offs are too great. Read about one IT organization that went down the MAID route and is turning back.

 Reduce storage power consumption via higher IOPS and capacity per watt
While it may seem like all your storage efficiency bases are covered by data reduction, thin provisioning, snapshots and disk spin-down, they're not. Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group and author of The Green and Virtual Data Center, also advises IT shops to target performance-intensive environments with faster disk drives and data-intensive environments with a higher capacity per watt. Listen to this podcast interview with Schulz to find out what that strategy would mean to an IT shop in terms of reducing storage power consumption.

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