The forces of regulatory compliance, new media and email are conspiring to create a data monster of huge proportions. Industry estimates suggest a company that had one terabyte (TB) of storage in 2001 now has to manage 10 to 15 TB. Typically, companies spend between 25 per cent and 45 per cent of their IT budgets on storage so it is a cost that needs to be controlled.
The need to store ever more data poses three key challenges to the smaller
company: disparate islands of storage, under-utilisation of resources and added
cost and complexity. Small and mid-sized businesses do not have the luxury of
large IT teams to manage expanding storage capacity. Nor do they
have the budget to invest in some of the high-end storage systems that have been deployed by large enterprises to improve the efficiency of their data storage and to reduce running costs.
The key to reigning in the data monster - and re-introducing order into a storage environment - is consolidation. In the last few years, networked storage has fallen in price, increased in performance and become easier to install and to manage.
As these more advanced technologies become available to smaller companies, it presents the channel with a unique opportunity to educate their customers about the benefits of networked storage and help them build a storage infrastructure that meets their needs.
Networked storage solves the utilisation problem by “pooling” capacity across servers, allowing applications to share capacity and breaking the direct relationship between servers and drives. IT managers can provision or reserve storage for a particular application or server from their management console and redeploy that capacity in a matter of minutes.
A SAN is the ideal vehicle for storage consolidation as a business can calculate the capacity it needs, add a margin for growth and then specify a storage sub-system that fits exactly that requirement. The SAN is not affected by the number of servers attached to it and adding capacity is usually just a question of adding disks to the storage arrays.
This closer match between storage capacity and demand can immediately boost utilisation and cut costs, plus there are other benefits such as simplified management, the ability to re-deploy resources, improved back-up and data recovery and better business continuity. Consolidation is also the first step in achieving a virtualised environment as it allows organisations to deploy a tiered storage architecture.
There are a few key questions that channel players can ask to assess if
customers are ready for storage consolidation, such as: are you running your
business-critical applications on server-internal or direct-attached storage?
Are some of your storage systems maxed out while others are barely used? Are
your storage management costs growing faster than your budget? If
they answer yes to any of these then the customer stands to benefit from consolidation.
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