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Helping storage administrators save money: Telling both sides of the story, Part 2

There are many ways your storage administrator customers can save money, but make sure they understand the pros and cons of each technology, in this second of a two-part series.

In our most recent article for SearchStorageChannel.com, we drilled down on points raised in a story by Curtis Breville on SearchDataBackup.com, on 10 things that storage administrators can do to save time and money. Our story examined the first five technologies highlighted by Curtis, explaining what solution providers need to consider about those technologies before pitching them to customers. Here we look at the final five technologies:

ILM. Oh God, please not ILM. When properly implemented as Curtis suggests, it is a good thing, especially when coupled with a disk-based archive. But "properly implemented" is very hard and expensive: It requires software that can scan for old files, move those files and leave a stub in case the user needs the file again. Then you have to make sure that you manage how the backup application handles all those stub files. It's complicated, to say the least. Instead of ILM, consider an archive-only solution. Most disk-based archive solutions on the market appear as an NFS or CIFS mount to the users or the application. And most users are now sophisticated enough to navigate their way from their home directory to their archive directory. It's a manual process, but one that's so simple that it won't hinder its use.

SSD. Certainly, SSD is ready for deployment in anything from the SME market up. The key from a channel perspective is to make sure the customer will see a benefit from the investment. The most suitable customers are those with servers that have some performance issues but that aren't using a high percentage -- say, over 40% -- of CPU cycles.

SATA disk. While it's been a great asset to the data center, the one persistent challenge with SATA is RAID rebuild times. Make sure your customer knows just how long it will take to rebuild a RAID Level 5 or even RAID 6 SATA array. With the new 1TB drives, a rebuild time of two days is not uncommon.

SRM. In the current economic climate, your customers need to hear about efficiency, but they're probably not asking about it. They're too wrapped up in cost cutting and containment, and as a result, they have more data with fewer people to manage it. Remaining staff members need the right SRM tools to manage such an environment. But beware of SRM tools provided by storage manufacturers; these tools oftentimes cannot provide in-depth monitoring of other vendors' systems nor report on other aspects of the environment, like VMware storage utilization.

Storage consolidation. Using virtualization to manage a mixed storage hardware environment can be a great simplifier for customers. You can take the remaining burden away from them for even more value-add by managing the hardware maintenance contracts to give them a single point of management for that too.

New technology is great, but giving your customers both sides of the story will not only keep you out of trouble, it will help you earn that trusted advisor status that we all aim for.

Here's what Curtis said in his article on SearchDataBackup.com:

Ten ways storage and backup administrators can save time and money

Here are 10 ways storage/backup administrators can save time, effort and money.

Tape. Tape is the reigning champion of low-cost storage. For example, the Sun Microsystems Inc. StorageTek SL8500 tape library holds 8,500 tapes. An LTO-4 tape cartridge holds 800 GB of data natively, 1.6 TB at the industry accepted 2:1 compression rate. 8,500 x 1.6 TB equals 13.6 petabytes of information stored. An LTO-4 cartridge costs approximately $50 per cartridge. Assuming the tape library will be around $500,000, $425,000 for tape cartridges to hold that amount, and say $75,000 for 10 tape drives to read/write the data, you are looking at storing 13 petabytes of data for $1 million. There's no denser, less-expensive storage solution that can even get to $2 million for the initial cost outlay to store that amount of information. Plus, since tape is sitting idle not requiring any electricity or extra energy, the amount of resources necessary to maintain access to the data is hundreds of times lower than what it would take for disk. To secure the media offsite, the cartridge is mobile and can be sent from one site to another for data security/disaster recovery.

Read the rest of the story on how storage and backup administrators can save time and money, by Curtis Breville.

About the author
George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the United States, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, George was chief technology officer at one of the nation's largest storage integrators, where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.


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