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Tape Revisited

Dr. Geoff Barrall, CTO and vice president of engineering at Overland Storage, said that many businesses are revisiting tape storage as a cost-effective alternative to deduplication for backup. New technologies like LTO-5, he said, are making tape storage as fast as, and safer than, disk storage for backup and, as a result, it can deliver considerable savings. According to Overland, businesses can expect tape storage to achieve the same performance as disk storage but at a lower cost than de-duplicating disk.

“According to the Clipper Group, tape uses around 300X less power than disk and is more reliable for long-term data storage,” said Barrall. “With tape solutions, a business is able to back up around 1TB onto one cartridge costing less than $10, which is dramatically less expensive than disk and easier to take offsite."

Implement Latency-based Storage Tiering

There are a lot of companies out there implementing storage tiering. Typically, they base data placement on such factors as frequency of data access or array performance metrics. Virtual Instruments suggests an alternate approach using application response time or latency from the server to the LUN.

“When you measure actual application response time by tier, you can confidently move application data to lower cost tiers with full performance visibility,” said Len Rosenthal, vice president of marketing at Virtual Instruments.

He cites saving up to 75 percent on storage costs.

Cut Down on Inter-Data Center WAN Traffic

Raj Kanaya, CEO of Infineta Systems, called out an overlooked aspect of the data explosion – the growth in data center-to-data center WAN traffic. A great majority of this inter-data center traffic is replication and backup traffic. Take a major bank whose replication traffic was growing at 115 percent per year. They're currently paying for 1.5Gbps WAN link, but need will to upgrade to a 5Gbps WAN in about 18 months.

Kanaya said, if you assume that $10 per Mbps per month is being paid for the link, they are going from $15,000 per month (for the 1.5Gbps link) to $50,000 per month (from $180,000 to $600,000 per year). All while replicating only 40-50 percent of the total data they want to protect. Products that work on reducing inter-data center WAN traffic will do so by 5X on average. This 5X value amounts to about an 80 percent reduction in traffic, which frees up WAN capacity.

“For the customer this means that you can protect more data with replication while paying less on bandwidth,” said Kanaya. “Customers could save $630,000 over that 18 month period.”

Don’t Take Cost Cutting Too Far

There does come a point when cost cutting can go too far. You can trim a server here, and a NAS appliance there, and when you reach the point where you feel warm all over about the fantastic savings, you suffer a disaster and find out the deficiencies of the slimmed-down infrastructure.

“Don’t eliminate protective elements for the sole purpose of cutting costs – it can end up costing you more over time,” said Matariyeh.

Just Say No

Finally, the time-honored way of cutting costs is to hold a hard line on purchase order acceptance. If you approve POs, tighten it up and don’t let the storage guys sweet talk you into more storage, yet again. Make them prove that they can use that money to increase efficiency, reduce the time spent on administration or otherwise bring about a fast return on investment. If you are the one writing the POs, you’ll be a lot more successful if you assume the viewpoint of the approval person and begin rejecting your own faulty submissions. Take an executive view and only ask for resources that you can turn into business value.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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