Large Enterprise Forum
Simplifying storage infrastructure
Enterprises that wish to get a grip on their information
resources need to manage storage infrastructure in a simpler manner. by Soutiman
Information in many organisations is doubling or tripling
in a years time. An organisations storage infrastructure has to
grow proportionately, in order to make information always available to the business.
In an unmanaged or poorly managed IT environment, it is expected that the storage
infrastructure will bloat and become unmanageable and under-utilised if information
is not consolidated.
In such a situation it is necessary to use strategies, processes, and technologies
that will help the organisation gain better control over storage resources and
infrastructure. Some of the means that can be used are storage consolidation,
virtualisation, and open environments.
Storage Purchases Never End
The apocryphal tale of organisations continuously purchasing storage capacity
every month is not far from the truth. A difference can be made only if CIOs
manage their storage infrastructures more efficiently.
Mark Hollands, Vice-president, Strategy, Gartner Asia-Pacific, cites an example
of an audit at a bank in Australia. He explains that the information resources
were large and it took nine months to complete. The audit found that duplication
was rife across the organisation, which is typical of a big organisation, and
there was no policy to archive or retire the unused data. So, unused data was
sitting on expensive hardware and the company failed to monitor the usage and
cost structure of information storage. Such a situation urgently requires a
simplification of storage infrastructure.
Keys To Storage Simplification
CIOs need to focus on a number of areas in order to simplify their storage infrastructure
and implement consistency.
B Ramesh, Senior Technical Specialist, Storage, IBM Global Services India, explains,
CIOs need to lower costs through consolidation, improve efficiency with
the help of virtualisation techniques, and improve overall efficacy through
ConsolidationA Stepping Stone
Vice-president, Systems and Technology Group
A good way to begin the simplification process is to
consolidate storage resources. It is an effective strategy to bring consistency
to the enterprise. CIOs are aware that consolidation rarely means consolidating
to a single type of server platform, operating system, or storage system,
says Alok Ohrie, Vice-president, Systems and Technology Group, IBM India.
Consolidation is never a one-size-fits-all process and a good way to start the
process is to talk to business heads. This can help CIOs understand what
the business truly does, how it uses information, and the true demands of information.
It can be followed by the processes of planning, and deciding upon the technology,
When the above processes have been set in motion and CIOs have a clear picture
of the outcome of the initiatives, it is time to think of consolidation, along
with aspects such as availability, replication, and data security.
Consolidation is not just a question of trying to pull
data to one bigger server from two smaller servers. Its more than that,
says Hollands. The key to successful consolidation is to simplify the infrastructure
connecting all IT elements, and manage their interaction.
The key to successful consolidation is to simplify the
infrastructure connecting all IT elements, and manage their interaction
Hollands continues, Consolidation can never be entirely
done in an organisation. You can get to a certain point but never finish because
theres always so much to store.
However there are a few vital signs that indicate that the consolidation exercise
has been successful. CIOs are able to show cost benefits in a structured manner
and use policies to retire data over time. These policies will be executed at
certain points in the information lifecycle.
A satisfaction survey among business users will yield good results. For instance,
the marketing department will get access to information where and when it wants.
The company will use policy-based automation to make reports and introduce
efficiency in existing processes, says Ohrie.
Some costs will be soft, and some hard. Hollands makes an interesting point,
With the demands of never-ending storage requirements, I doubt that companies
will be able to reduce costs of storage. They can, however, spend the money
in a more intelligent manner.
Senior Technical Specialist, Storage
IBM Global Services India
The advantages of the virtualisation of logical volume and
file management infrastructure hold great promise for CIOs needing to get more
from current and future storage consolidation efforts. This is especially true
for companies that seek to leverage virtualisation technologies on storage or
servers to enable rapid, on-demand allocation of processing resources.
The biggest benefit of virtualisation is that there is better availability
of applications, claims Ramesh.
Delivering on the promise of storage consolidation and virtualisation requires
the providers of such solutions to address several important concerns.
CIOs need flexibility in deployment options. For instance, they may need array-based,
network-based, and server-based versions without sacrificing consistency and
commonality of functions. Companies may need scalability in the infrastructure
that is simple, quick, and cost-effective, with minimal disruption to ongoing
operations. They may also need volume and file virtualisation that is rapid,
painless and accompanied by data and application migration services across heterogeneous
server and storage environments.
The use of a SAN Volume Controller (SVC) will provide benefits such as
a single manageable interface for all servers. All servers see only one storage
set-up and this provides a single space to manage backups, and the entire infrastructure
acts as a homogeneous whole, explains Ohrie.
Communicating To The CEOs
For CIOs to carry out storage simplification they must be able to approach CEOs
to seek approval for the budget. Even though expenditure for storage simplification
is part of the IT budget the CEO may want to know where the money has been spent.
Heres an approach for CIOs to handle the task of budget sanction. CIOs
could show the CEOs the bill for managing the current information storage infrastructure
and the value received by the company for the service. CIOs can then explain
the frustration that business users have to endure related to information access,
archival, and retrieval. CEOs could also be told about the wastage of resources
because rarely-used data still resides on expensive servers.
When the CEO is convinced about the wastage, need and costs, there will
be a business case on which approval will follow, asserts Hollands.