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3/26/2009
10:06 AM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
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You Can't DeDupe IT Administration

Primary Storage Optimization is about putting more data in the same amount of physical space. Server Virtualization is about putting more virtual servers in the same physical space. These are great advances for the data center, but they do little if anything to make the IT staff more efficient and all the cost savings may go right out the window when you have to hire more people.

Primary Storage Optimization is about putting more data in the same amount of physical space. Server Virtualization is about putting more virtual servers in the same physical space. These are great advances for the data center, but they do little if anything to make the IT staff more efficient and all the cost savings may go right out the window when you have to hire more people.As we discussed in our presentation on Primary Storage Optimization, the ability to deduplicate, compress and archive storage can offer a tremendous cost savings to organizations looking to control their primary storage expenditures. Being able to store 50TB's where you were previously only able to store 25TB's can offer an amazing return on investment, but that additional storage as it is consumed still has to be managed.

The same goes for server virtualization. The fact that you can now squeeze 10 servers into a single physical server offers a great cost savings, but those 10 virtualized servers need to be managed separately.

A concern is that since all these additional servers and capacity took no additional physical space in the data center it may be too easy to overlook the need for growing the administrative staff to manage them. At least in the one server/one app, or one array/one app paradigm you visually saw the growth and it was easier to make the connection to more stuff means more people to manage it.

The increased temptation to add servers or store additional data in these optimized environments because it is so easy. One more server or a little bit more storage does not impact the resources like it used to and most importantly does not trigger a "buying event" as often. The result however is that the servers and the amount of data being stored both grow exponentially after these optimization efforts.

IT efficiency, the ability to have one IT administrator be able to manage what it used to take ten to manage will require providing those people with easier to manage systems and tools. Trying new more efficient and easy to use systems often seem to take the headline, but new tools are critical to containing the costs of these efforts. As we point out in our article on "Maximizing Your Storage Cost Cutting Efforts", no longer can the spreadsheet be counted on as the inventorying and monitoring tool for the enterprise.

Companies like Aptare, Tek-Tools and Vizioncore are delivering tools that allow the optimization of the IT personnel so they can keep pace with the optimization of the environment. Tools like these provide real time or near real time inventorying, monitoring and in some cases action on the environment.

The real time nature of these tools is particularly critical with storage and server optimization; as we move out of the one server/one app, or one array/one app paradigm and eliminate excess capacity we also reduce the margin for error that these strategies allowed.

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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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