SAN Buyers Guide: Part I Page 2


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In addition, there are several functional areas that the enterprise must identify in order to demonstrate a valid ROI in business case planning when moving to its first SAN. Not all cases are created equal in terms of measurement, justification, and validation. Much of the business case planning functional areas will depend on the individual enterprise environment. Most of the benefits identified by the enterprise appear for open systems. The reason for this is primarily because these systems tend to have the largest share of data management and scalability problems. And, the other reason is, because they are usually the prime target for pooled storage or consolidation on the SAN. With that in mind, the following are the ROI business cases that an enterprise should use for planning when moving to its first SAN from a DAS environment. All of these cases will be discussed in some detail in Part II of this article:
  • Applications development and testing impact.
  • Avoid upgrade by improving LAN/WAN performance.
  • Backup servers elimination/reduction.
  • Backup windows to eliminate and reduce batch.
  • Bulk data movement through increased I/O performance.
  • Consolidation of Vendors.
  • CPU load on servers reduction.
  • Critical data protection improvement.
  • Current storage life increase.
  • Data area network growth avoidance.
  • Data path availability improvement.
  • Disaster recovery capability improvement.
  • Disk procurement deference.
  • Disk utilization increase.
  • Floor space/data center reduction.
  • General-purpose UNIX and Windows NT servers reduction.
  • Improvement of terra byte (TB)-per-administrator.
  • Management costs as a percentage of storage costs.
  • Migrating or new applications impact.
  • New capabilities for disaster recovery (DR).
  • Non-disruptive scalability.
  • On demand storage.
  • Options for on-line recoverability.
  • Secondary security services.
  • Server clustering support.
  • Server(s) life extension.
  • Server management staff utilization.
  • Storage maintenance reduction.
  • Tape library procurement deference. Of course there are other factors to consider, but this list represents those that are highest on the list when it comes to discussing the benefits of a SAN.

    Financial Pay Back And ROI Support

    Just emerging, is empirical data supporting ROI and financial payback for pooled storage architectures (relative to the current status of specific SAN technology and the current technical reference model). However, much SAN ROI analysis may remain theoretical in nature. Most SAN savings will be soft-dollar savings--that is, savings that are less tangible and harder to validate by saving an actual IT budget. Recognizing that normally, no tangible cost savings will be recaptured, these soft-dollar savings are often fuzzy feeling-good numbers that the enterprise's management should understand and appreciate. Nevertheless, soft-dollar savings should not be underestimated or disqualified from the analysis, because they typically represent the larger percentage of SAN ROI and payback dollars.

    Finally, hard-dollar savings will also emerge from the SAN ROI analysis. Hard-dollar savings are real savings that could be removed from future budgets or operating cost structures.

    Summary And Conclusions

    Many enterprises have recognized new efficiencies when moving from their DAS infrastructures to include a Storage Area Network (SAN). It is these varied efficiencies and benefits that should prompt steps toward the first SAN procurement. SAN creation and deployment should not be undertaken with the heightened expectation that near-term cost savings will always be the result.

    With the preceding in mind, this article presented the justification and business impact analyses that can be completed to show offsetting terms for the necessary new SAN investment from the old DAS environment. Furthermore, in order to assist SAN buyers in determining business value and financial impact when implementing storage area networks, this article also briefly discussed some theoretical approaches that use industry standards and units of measure (where available).

    Finally, this article recommends that a return on investment (ROI)/business case analysis be conducted by an enterprise prior to the first SAN installation. SANs do offer demonstrated areas in which their use can save money for the enterprise. However, these savings will vary with differences in topology and the relevance of hard- and soft-cost savings to the enterprise. Part II of this article provides a structured approach for calculating a SAN ROI. It identifies numerous SAN business planning cases--ranging from increased disk utilization to a reduction and elimination of batch and backup Windows. This case information can help enterprises build strong and accurate business cases for a first SAN creation and deployment.

    About the Author :John Vacca is an information technology consultant and author. Since 1982, John has authored 36 technical books including The Essential Guide To Storage Area Networks, published by Prentice Hall. John was the computer security official for NASA's space station program (Freedom) and the International Space Station Program, from 1988 until his early retirement from NASA in 1995. John can be reached at jvacca@hti.net.

    » See All Articles by Columnist John Vacca

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