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2/26/2009
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George Crump
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Proving The ROI

With budgets and IT staff stretched to thinner levels than ever, change is going to come slowly this year and proving the ROI of each project is going to be critical not only to enable the approval of the next project, but possibly to keep your job.

With budgets and IT staff stretched to thinner levels than ever, change is going to come slowly this year and proving the ROI of each project is going to be critical not only to enable the approval of the next project, but possibly to keep your job.Too often the ROI of a project is sort of a "seat of the pants" guess. The server virtualization project saved having to buy 20 new servers, so there was the ROI. Today ROI has to be looked at as more than just how fast you can justify the initial cost of a project, but over the course of time, how does that project continue to save you money?

That means the initial focus should be on making the IT staff more effective and giving them the tools they need to prove a project's ROI. These tools need to be in place in advance. First, they allow the IT staff to better wear the multiple hats that a smaller team is going to require. The backup guy, the storage guy, and the virtualization guy are going to quickly become "the guy" in many organizations. Having a separate management and monitoring application for each one of these applications isn't going to cut it any more. Tools will be needed, like those from Tek-Tools and Apatar that offer complete monitoring and reporting of storage management, data protection, and virtualization management in a single console.

As we discuss in our article on "Maximizing Cost Cutting," these tools not only make the team more efficient but also allow you to measure the effectiveness of future cost-cutting measures. They allow you to establish a baseline of what you had before and what the result of the change will be. They are critical tools in proving the initial ROI of a project as well as its ongoing ROI. Imagine being able to report on a monthly basis this is how much additional money this project saved us.

For example, possibly no area is generating a faster initial ROI as well as an ongoing ROI than in disk-based archiving projects. Companies like Permabit, NexSan, and EMC offer solutions that deliver an ROI in three critical areas. First, as a result of moving data off primary storage, it can prevent future purchases. Second, with that data off primary storage,it reduces the size of the disk backup target and it decreases the time to recover at the DR site by moving all that data out of the way. Additionally, it lays the foundation for a retention and compliance process when your organization realizes it needs it.

A monitoring and reporting tool compliments disk-based archiving by allowing you to understand what data has to be moved, how much capacity is freed up once it is moved, what the reduction of the backup window is, and what the reduction of the replication window is.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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