Five Reasons Why Storage Could Fail for your Business

Allaster Finke, GlassHouse senior consultant, outlines five reasons that storage can fail. If any of these five reach critical mass, and are either ignored or not thought through properly, then they could become the biggest hurdle in the recovery or progression of your business.

A sea change is taking place in the world of IT. Many companies have been looking at smarter ways to approach storage strategies. This stems either from necessity (they are approaching critical mass on capacity, serviceable life, or functionality) or the understanding that by managing the operating environment that houses their data more intelligently, they can realise real cost benefits in both the short and long term.

Service Delivery

There is no denying that increased functionality brings added complexity. The demands on in house skills to help operate some of these technologies can often push the budget requirement beyond acceptable levels. Even with the skills in house, in some cases, the core infrastructure to support a given technology may not be in place, and not viable for upgrade.

A while ago, I worked for a mid-sized company who identified a business need to stream broadcast quality video to target customers. Whilst the business strategy called for this service, the IT infrastructure would have required a massive overhaul to be able to support it.

To progress the delivery of this new revenue stream, a hosted service for the provision of this system was engaged and the time-to-market for the new service was much faster than if they had tried it themselves.

By tactically choosing the areas they knew they could support and farming out those too costly for them to invest in, they developed a new and very profitable facet of their business very quickly – and made sure that the gap for that product was not filled by one of their competitors.

Management of costs

Do you know how much your data is worth? Does the cost of the technology it resides on match the value of the data to the business?

Those companies who have taken the time to understand the value of their data and classify it in a way that allows them to position it onto different cost tiers have quickly redrawn their architecture and strategy to a more economic model. They've ensured that ongoing costs and capital expenditure is led by necessity rather than the selling skills of the vendor.

Configuration

There are a series of steps that can be taken to improve the configuration of a storage area network. I have seen many environments where historical and compounded miss-management of the physical environment has impacted daily operations by increasing the time spent in fault finding, planning and implementing fixes or delivering new implementions within a nest of network cabling.

If most of the administration team’s time is spent dealing with compounded issues, then limited time can be spent planning the developing the environment, reacting to business needs or increasing current capabilities

Green

There is no avoiding the growing argument around reducing our impact on the environment – even if your sensibilities do not lean towards the moral argument, being ‘green’ offers an enhanced business image and goes a long way to reducing costs.

Considering a technology (virtualisation or MAID storage arrays) that reduces the dependence of physical space, power, and cooling requirements is a great way to achieve this.

Refreshing power hungry legacy arrays, virtualising storage to make better use of your current technologies, or de-duping your data to reduce your storage footprint are simple ways to increase your image and reduce your costs.

Compliance

Did you know that within a year, the introduction of new legislation makes carbon reduction a priority? The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) binds large organisations into purchasing carbon allowances to cover their carbon emissions. At the end of each year, each of the companies in the scheme will receive either a bonus or a penalty based on how well they have performed.

It is worth noting, however, that currently the scheme only affects larger organisations – to quote www.carbontrust.co.uk “In its current proposed format, the CRC will cover all organisations whose electricity consumption through half hourly meters is greater than 6,000MWh/yr – equivalent to an annual electricity bill of ~£500k.” I can’t help but dwell on the ‘in its current format’ part of that statement…

The crux of all these initiatives is that by streamlining the way you manage your storage, and thinking smarter, you can ensure that your storage environment compliments your business, rather than restricting it.