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5/14/2009
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George Crump
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Return On Efficiency

What if "do more with less" was more than a marketing phrase? What if you really could do more with less? There are storage solutions available now that really let you improve efficiency but one of the key components of deciding if a do more with less project is successful, is to measure the return on efficiency. For the dollars invested are you X more effective at your job?

What if "do more with less" was more than a marketing phrase? What if you really could do more with less? There are storage solutions available now that really let you improve efficiency but one of the key components of deciding if a do more with less project is successful, is to measure the return on efficiency. For the dollars invested are you X more effective at your job?For the rest of 2009 and probably most of 2010 you are going to be hearing a lot about efficient storage. When you hear the term efficient storage the vendor can mean one of three things. A solution that makes the disk capacity or utilization of that capacity more efficient, a solution that makes you more efficient or a solution that does both.

Measuring the return on efficiency in the first category, better utilization through either data reduction techniques like deduplication and compression or through archive techniques, is really a math problem to measure return on efficiency. This type of efficiency mostly affects CAPEX, and does not do much for OPEX. From an administrator perspective you are still managing the same total capacity, it just happens to fit in less physical space.

A potential exception is archive, as we mentioned in our Archive Basics article, archiving addresses both the CAPEX side of efficiency by reducing the investment in expensive tier one storage and the OPEX side of efficiency by moving data out of the primary path that is managed daily.

Other products address the OPEX side primarily and then often have an impact on the CAPEX side. Solutions like storage virtualization from vendors like DataCore, 3PAR and NetApp or large scale single filesystem NAS solutions like those from Isilon and IBRIX increase admin productivity by either reducing the amount of steps involved in the storage management process or by reducing the number of filesystems and storage systems to manage.

While in many cases the increased productivity by using these solutions is immediately obvious, ideally a baseline should be created so that an effective comparison of the before and after can be made. For example, document the life-cycle of a request for more storage. How long does it take to allocate additional storage or new storage to an application? Compare that to how one of these solutions would do it and the difference is your return. The difference being this measurement is in hours saved as opposed to GB's saved.

In our next entry will explore what is more important, storage CAPEX savings or storage OPEX savings?

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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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