Colm Keegan, Senior Analyst
For many organizations the time may finally be right for
getting out of the storage hardware buying game. The idea
Short-Sighted Savings?
of consuming storage as a utility is nothing new. In fact, the
premise of utility based storage was brought to market in
the late 90s during the height of the dot com bubble but the
idea never really gained traction and hence, it lay relatively
One of the fundamental issues with trying to manage the
storage procurement process is that the cost of storage
capacity constantly goes down over time. This is a good
thing, however, it has a pronounced effect on storage
dormant for nearly a decade afterwards. But now it is
possible for IT organizations to leverage low-cost, secure
cloud storage resources to save time, money and the
purchasing decisions. For example, many organizations will
purchase only what they think the business will need over a
12 month period. That way when additional storage
aggravation of constantly going through the storage refresh
capacity is added a year later, the acquisition costs may be
significantly less than the previous purchase. The challenge
with this approach is that if the needs of the business
Endless Acquisition Cycles
suddenly change and storage demands unexpectedly
spike, IT can be left flat footed trying to meet this demand.
In situations where time-to-market is critical, the “savings”
realized by skimping on the up-front storage purchase
The typical organization will refresh their storage
infrastructure every 3-5 years. But between refresh cycles
there is often the need to purchase additional disk shelves,
array fibre port expansions, network switches, software
licenses, etc. In recent years, there has also been a need to
could evaporate in an instant.
Storage Catch-22
accelerate performance at the midpoint of a system’s life
cycle in the form of a flash/SSD upgrade; adding even more
cost to the storage infrastructure stack. In short, the
As a result, many IT planners will purchase excess storage
capacity “just in case” user demand outweighs the
storage infrastructure environment rarely remains static for
long; it is subject to constant change. Therein lies the rub.
The storage procurement process essentially never ends
following the initial acquisition of a new platform; relegating
available supply. This generally results in businesses over
spending - not just on the cost of the extra disk spindles
but also for storage software licenses to manage this
capacity, an increase in the cost of the hardware
many IT pros into storage procurement and implementation
experts instead of information specialists that can help add
to the company bottom line.
maintenance contract and the additional rack space and
power and cooling required to maintain this additional
“buffer" space.
In fact, when excess storage capacity is purchased up-front, storage capacity upgrades and technology refreshes. No
it is not uncommon for overall storage utilization rates in the more time spent poring through storage vendor data sheets,
data center to hover around 30-40%. This means that
businesses could be paying up to 3x more for storage
resources than they need to be. In this new era of relatively
low-cost and abundant cloud storage capacity that can be
deliberating internally about storage decisions, negotiating
acquisition terms with suppliers, etc. Instead, storage could
be purchased and provisioned on-demand, in capacity
increments that more closely mirror the real-time needs of
served up rapidly on-demand, something has to give.
the business. This could open up opportunities to lower
capital and operational expenditures while freeing up IT
personnel to focus their time on business revenue
Hybrid Cloud Flexibility
generating activities.
One of the chief barriers for adopting cloud storage is the
concern over local application performance. The network
Another major side benefit with adopting this approach is
bandwidth required to support a rapid IO connection with
cloud storage resources would simply be too cost
prohibitive for most organizations. On the other hand, many
businesses aren’t comfortable with the idea of deploying
that since business data is always protected in the cloud, IT
can dramatically scale back the time they spend on data
protection activities. Data stored in the cloud can be
configured with various data retention and data
their critical business systems into a cloud service providers
(CSP) facility; instead, they want to retain local control of
these applications. What is needed is a way for businesses
snapshotting policies based on the recovery point objectives
(RPO) of the business. This also would open up the door for
non-disruptive DR testing since cloud protected data could
to implement a hybrid approach to consuming cloud storage be presented to CSP virtual server resources for application
- on premises command and control of business
recovery testing. Data could even be mirrored across two
applications with the ability to leverage off-site, low-cost
different cloud providers, if needed, for an additional layer of
cloud storage resources for data protection, retention and
data redundancy and availability.
Various industry sources estimate that only 5-8% of
business data is active at any point in time. This means that
only a small percentage of a company’s data actually needs
to be on high speed storage capacity; the rest could reside
The time has come for businesses to take a hard look at
consuming cloud based storage. With solutions like those
available from Nasuni, IT organizations can quickly deploy a
on lower cost storage resources. A solution that could
bridge the need for an efficient layer of local flash storage
capacity with seamless connectivity to ubiquitous, low-cost
hybrid cloud storage solution which provides the speed and
performance of a local storage cache with the efficiencies
and flexibility of low-cost cloud storage capacity. In so
cloud storage, could help businesses strike the right balance doing, IT personnel can reclaim back valuable time that may
from an ongoing storage procurement perspective.
otherwise be spent analyzing storage technology and
planning for storage upgrades and technology refreshes. By
Making IT Strategic
consuming storage-as-a-service, businesses can leverage
Since most of an organization’s data could be securely
protected off-site in the cloud, IT organizations could
the sliding-scale of low cost cloud storage, enhance their
data resiliency and offload their experienced IT personnel
from performing tasks that are not core to the business.
extricate themselves from the endless burden of manual
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