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May 14, 2009

Hitachi warns on false economy of data storage

Urges use of 'economically superior storage architectures'

By CBR Staff Writer

IT shops need to look to develop ‘economically superior storage architectures’ if they are to be able to face the increased demand to do more with their existing infrastructure investments, Hitachi Data Systems has said.

With capital expenditure pressures continuing to dominate planning discussions, it is vital to consider the full impact of current storage investments on future operating costs, David Merrill, Chief Storage Economist of HDS told us. 

“There is a misconception that disk is cheap. But the price of storage does not equal the cost of ownership of storage. We know that the purchase price of storage constitutes only 20% to 25% of the overall total cost of ownership.”

While adding more storage solves the problem of data growth, it can come at the expense of inefficient capital utilisation and escalating operating costs.

Merrill said that HDS has characterised as many as 33 different types of storage operating costs.

These costs are those experienced after the sale and can include electricity, floor space, labour for management, risk of downtime, as well as the familiar hardware and software maintenance licence costs.

Aside from storage management, there is additional labour related to backups, restores, disaster recovery planning and testing, he said. 

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There are also the various costs associated with data migration at the array end of life. The time and effort required to move data to different tiers or archive solutions needs to be accounted for. And, besides multiple copies, there is often an overhead associated with the cost of duplicate data and holding several copies of the same data. It is something that is very common in unstructured file systems, according to HDS.

“We believe an appreciation of the economics of storage should be influencing the storage architecture” Merrill said, noting that some of the key ingredients for economically superior architectures include use of technologies such as thin provisioning, tiered storage, solid state storage, storage virtualisation and virtual tape library, as well as processes that encourage storage consolidation, data deduplication and integrated archiving.

Ray Ford, CTO of Accident Exchange and an HDS customer, stresses that any account of the costs, the benefits and the returns of any storage investment has to be backed up by real and meaningful measurements. 

“They have to be measurable because if they can’t be measured then we can’t work to reduce them. The aim is low cost and high service, which is where our focus always has to be fixed.” 

Ford said he has adopted ITIL as one way his team can measure and improve service. “We looked at a variety of different models but turned to ITIL and have applied it to our service catalogue and optimisation of our service desk operations.” 

Organic growth has taken the car accident management company from its formation in 2001, to a point today where its call centre is taking between 10 and 12 calls every minute of a 12 hour day. 

Ford has tiered the company’s storage environment to prioritise applications delivering relevant data to these customer-facing staff, so that they can deal with enquiries as effectively as possible.

 

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