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The Danger Of IT At Capacity

As the IT budget has every ounce of excess rung out of it and storage optimization technologies promise to delay future purchases by delivering maximum utilization, for the first time storage administrators are living at much higher utilization rates. While this looks good, it has a dangerous underbelly.
As the IT budget has every ounce of excess rung out of it and storage optimization technologies promise to delay future purchases by delivering maximum utilization, for the first time storage administrators are living at much higher utilization rates. While this looks good, it has a dangerous underbelly.In the "old days" of eight months ago, it was perfectly fine to have excess storage capacity, compute capacity, and even archive capacity. Then the economic tsunami hit and IT professionals are racing to optimize everything. While a highly optimized data center is the ultimate goal, it does have a certain risk associated with it -- what happens if you run out of resources?

Rushing through a purchase order for an emergency buy is tough if there is no money to fund it and is about as popular as all the excess was that you just drove out with cost-cutting. What is needed is constant monitoring and predictability.

The challenge is that this cannot be done manually anymore. There is no longer the slush fund of assets available to the storage administrator that will allow for a quarterly check up and meticulous updating of Excel spreadsheets. If you're living near capacity, you need the ability to respond quicker and establish some predictability to the environment.

Using monitoring and analysis tools from companies like Tek-Tools or Monosphere (recently acquired by Quest Software) can provide the real-time monitoring and trending that is needed in the highly optimized data center. These types of tools should be the first step to take before trying to optimize and maximize everything else.

First, they give you a baseline of where you started from, so as you optimize you are actually able to show the progress. Second, they allow you to know what you have, regardless of vendor and where you can optimize. Third, they can monitor the environment in real time so that you can be alerted to out-of-capacity conditions as they occur, and, finally, they can trend the environment so future storage buys can be properly planned for.

As we discussed in our article on Maximizing Cost-Cutting, they are even key ingredients to saving every dollar possible as you move forward with cost-reduction strategies in your enterprise.

For more details on cutting IT costs while increasing efficiency, please register for our Webinar "Driving IT Efficiency 2.0".

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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.