QuaddraComix: The storage consumption report

consumption report

Quaddracomix: I don’t know

How can you manage all that unstructured data that’s piling up in your storage if you don’t know what it is and what’s in it?

I dont know why I pay you so much

The CEO’s questions are simple enough, What is all this storage used for and why can’t we get rid of the obsolete stuff?

The maddening thing is that smart, experienced IT professionals who have spent their lives working on advanced technology can’t answer these simple questions.  That’s where Quaddra’s Storage Insight file analytics software comes in.

If you need to know what’s in your unstructured data and you don’t want to wait days, weeks or months to find out, you might want to contact us at info@quaddra-sw.com

Skimming content from Calvin’s blog – my homies!

 

Two of my buddies from HP, Calvin Zito and Michael Haag recorded a podcast at SNW last week.  The topic is Building Storage for Virtualization.  In addition to having good content, this podcast is very well recorded – good job Calvin.  Of course, the discussion moved to 3PAR systems and although I no longer work for HP/3PAR, I still like the 3PAR system and its architecture.  I’m glad that StorSimple does not compete with 3PAR because I have so many good friends over there.

At one point Calvin suggests that Michael sounds like JR (Jim Richardson, legendary 3PAR employee).  No, Michael you don’t, thank goodness.  I can’t imagine two JRs breathing the same air – something would have to give.

At the end of the podcast, they talk about storage efficiency for virtual servers. The two technologies mentioned were thin provisioning and deduplication.  While StorSimple is now becoming known for it’s cloud integration, I always like reminding people that our systems use both thin provisioning and deduplication technologies with primary storage.

How much data do you need to keep around?

When we think about data growth we tend to think about all the new data that is being created all the time. But what happens to new data? It gets old, like everything else in this world.

Then what? Usually nothing. It just stays there, taking up capacity. Capacity that could be used for new data. We all know how that turns out. We end up buying more storage and then we start the cycle all over again.

But what if you had a way to deal with old data so it didn’t take up so much capacity? What if you could just get rid of old data by putting it somewhere else – deduped and compressed? What if you could still access that data, just like you always did before? What if you didn’t have to buy a lot of equipment to make it work?

Do you think that would help you manage capacity?

If you like what you’re reading, you should really check out StorSimple, the company I work for. We have amazing new technology our customers love.

Some gigabytes are worth more than others

Getting clarity on the cost and relative worth of enterprise technology has always been a challenge because of the complex environments and diverse requirements involved. For every good question about which product is better, there is the almost universal answer – “it depends”.  One product might have more capacity than it’s competitors, while another might have a unique feature that supports a new application and another product might have a new operating or management approach that increases productivity.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and enterprise customers dig a lot deeper than what appears in competitors’ spec sheets. In some respects, it’s like comparing real estate properties where location and design trump square footage.

One of the traps people fall into when comparing the value of cloud services to legacy infrastructure technologies is limiting their analysis to a direct cost per capacity analysis. This article in Information Week did that in a  painstaking way where the author, Art Wittman, made a commendable effort to make a level cost comparison, but he left out the location and design elements.  He concludes that IaaS services are not worthwhile because the costs per capacity are not following the same cost curve as legacy components and systems.  There is certainly some validity to his approach – if the capacity cost of disk drives has dropped an order of magnitude in four years, why should the cost of Amazon’s S3 service be approximately 39% higher?

Conceding that productivity gains can be realized from cloud services, he limits their value to application services and summarily rejects that they could apply to IaaS. After all the work he had done to make a storage capacity cost comparison, he refused to factor in the benefits of using a service.  Given that omission, Mr. Wittman concludes there is no way for an IaaS business model to succeed.

I agree with Mr. Wittman in one respect, if a service can’t be differentiated from on-site hardware, then it will fail.  But that is not the case with enterprise  cloud storage and it is especially not true with cloud storage that is integrated with local enterprise storage. Here’s why:

Storage is an infrastructure element, but it has specialized applications, such as backup and archiving that require significant expense to manage media (tapes). Moving tapes on and off-site for disaster recovery purposes is time-consuming and error-prone. While the errors are usually not damaging, they can result in lost data or make it impossible to recover versions of files that the business might need. The cost of lost data is one of those things that is very difficult to measure, but it can be very expensive if it involves data needed for legal or compliance purposes.  Using cloud storage as virtual tape media for backup kills two birds with one stone by eliminating physical tapes and the need for off-site tape rotations. It still takes time to complete the backup job and move data to the cloud, but many hours a month in media management can be recaptured as well as tape-related costs.

There are even greater advantages available with backup if it can be integrated from primary storage all the way to the cloud, as it is with StorSimple’s cloud-integrated enterprise storage (CIES).  Using snapshot techniques on CIES storage, the amount of backup data generated is kept to a minimum, which means the amount of storage consumed from the storage cloud service provider is far less than if a customer used the cloud for virtual tape backup storage. Cloud-resident data snapshots have a huge capacity advantage over backup storage where the storage of files for legal and compliance purposes are concerned and it demonstrates how the design of a cloud appliance can deliver even more value from cloud storage.

The next increase in cloud storage value comes from integrating deduplication, or dedupe technology with cloud storage.  Dedupe minimizes the amount of storage capacity consumed by data by eliminating redundant information within the data itself. Sometimes, the amount of deduped data can be quite large – as occurs with virtualized systems. StorSimple’s CIES systems automatically applies dedupe to the data stored in the cloud and squishes capacity consumption to its minimum level – which also minimizes the amount of data that is transferred to and from the cloud. With the help of a cloud-integrated enterprise storage system, the capacity of cloud storage increases in value a lot because so much less of it is consumed.

But the worth of cloud storage is not all about consuming capacity, it’s about accessing data faster than you can from legacy data archives. Data stored in the cloud with a CIES system is online and can be accessed by workers and administrators without the need to find it in a separate archive pool of storage. If you don’t work in IT, you might not know how much time that can save the IT staff, but if you do work in IT, you know this is a huge advantage that returns a lot of administrator time for other projects.

The access to data in cloud storage is probably most valuable when it occurs following a disaster.  Cloud storage provides the ultimate flexibility in recovery by being location-independent.  Backup or snapshot data stored in the cloud can be accessed from almost any location with an Internet connection to the cloud storage service provider.  Again, cloud-integrated storage has some important advantages that further increase the value of cloud storage by requiring only a small subset of the data to be downloaded before application systems can resume production work. This is much faster than downloading multiple virtual tapes and then restoring data to application servers.

I could go on – and I will in future blog posts. This one is long enough already. There are numerous ways that cloud storage is worth more than it’s raw capacity.  Some of this worth comes from its role in disaster recovery but a lot of it comes from how it is used as part of an integrated storage stack that incorporates primary, backup, archive and cloud storage.