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Classifying Data, SLAs Show Promise
Eran Farajun, executive vice president at ASIGRA, an Ontario, Canada-based company offering online backup and restore solutions for network computing, says one of the things end users can do to better their TCO is to begin to classify data based on two simple criteria: data is either "critical" (needed for day-to-day operations) or "important" (required to for legal, compliance or other reasons).
Eran Farajun, ASIGRA
Farajun also suggests that end users take a high-level look at the architecture being used by various storage solutions (primary storage, backup and recovery, long-term archiving storage). Enterprises need to ask themselves if they are using outdated architecture for any of these storage operations. The market has new solutions to old problems, Farajun says. For example there are new methods of doing backup and recovery that might not have existed when an existing solution was purchased.
Farajun also suggests that end users attempt to introduce internal Service Level Agreements to their storage customers and consumers.
"When end users are able to set internal SLAs up, they will have an option to deliver specific storage operations as a utility across their organization, and therefore charge ... based on consumption," Farajun notes. If users know they will be charged for storage consumption, they will be much more careful about what they store, and the IT costs will be spread across the organization and not be incurred solely by the IT departmental budget, says Farajun.
IP Storage, High-End Features Offer Hope
IP storage is another way to do more with less by reducing or eliminating redundant networks and letting customers leverage their existing IP infrastructure and investments.
"Storage vendors are beginning to ship storage systems with native Ethernet connections, thereby negating the need for specialized FCIP networks, which provides huge capex and opex savings for IT end users," says Robert MacIntyre, vice president of business development and marketing at Netex, a Maple Grove, Minn.-based data transport company.
The benefit of IP storage, MacIntyre says, is that end users can use existing IP infrastructures for storage networking applications. By reducing extraneous network and resource costs, customers will be able to divert more funds to storage systems, which in turn will help manage storage growth, he says.
Another suggestion is for end users to purchase enterprise-class features. Dramatic operational improvements in efficiency, reliability, and data protection have been developed in the form of enterprise features such as snapshots, data replication, RAID, redundant hot-swappable hardware and storage virtualization, says EqualLogic's Hunter. These features are rapidly becoming more and more affordable and accessible to the broader market, and form the heart of today's storage best practices, he says.
Hunter also suggests that end users automate their storage. Features such as storage virtualization and RAID are extremely complex and can create more problems than they solve in the form of administrator toil and overhead.
"Automation not only makes these technologies practical, it provides the intelligence to optimize their use," says Hunter. "Combined with storage consolidation and enterprise features, automation is the glue that delivers the desired productivity improvements by streamlining operations."
In the second part of this series on end user challenges, we'll look at how you can improve your negotiating leverage with vendors when you come to the end of a lease or need additional capacity fast.