Loh Ching Soo, country manager, NetApp Singapore
Loh Ching Soo, country manager of NetApp Singapore, provider of data management and storage solutions, shared his thoughts on data centre efficiency, overall IT efficiency and the company’s data centre fitness page.
1. What is the general percentage of enterprise IT budgets spent on storage?
According to the new IDC Worldwide Black Book, storage spending grew by 14 per cent in 2010. Additionally, Forrester’s Enterprise and SMB Hardware Survey, North America and Europe, Q3 2009 found that on average, 17 per cent of IT budget went to storage. This was up from the 2007 number of 10 per cent, which indicates that storage typically represents a growing portion of IT spending due to the growth in data. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents then indicated that they expect to spend more in the coming years, while another 42 per cent expected to spend at least the same amount.
A 2008 ESG survey of nearly 400 enterprises revealed that, on average, organisations spend 28 per cent of their IT budgets on storage inclusive of systems, software, and services. In another ESG study conducted in March 2009, nearly 74 per cent of respondents stated that they were planning on maintaining or increasing storage spending in 2009 compared to 2008.
2. How does improving storage efficiency boost overall IT efficiency?
With data expected to grow by more than 600 per cent in the coming years, data management is one of top concerns of IT leaders. Indeed, at the heart of every organisation is its data and this makes the storage system an important part of an IT infrastructure. Storage is a large line-item in many IT budgets, and by improving on storage efficiency, overall IT efficiency can be boosted.
Hard costs savings: The amount of storage required can be reduced and higher utilisation rates for existing assets can be achieved by deploying storage efficiency technologies such as data deduplication, virtualisation, thin provisioning and thin cloning, caching technologies and SATA drives. These technologies provide IT teams with immediate hard costs savings in the form of reduced power and cooling requirements, negating the need to purchase more storage or build additional data centres.
Soft cost savings: Storage efficiency technologies also provide soft cost savings such as increased staff productivity and faster time–to-market. A storage efficient environment would reduce the amount of administration and maintenance time required by the IT team, allowing them to be redeployed to more strategic roles.
Future savings: Efficient storage solutions afford businesses with flexibility. Storage efficiency technologies such as consolidation and virtualisation also help make businesses more flexible, and allow organisations to scale out and up according to business needs.
Furthermore, with a more efficient and flexible storage system, IT can be made more efficient through not only cost savings, but also through improved staff productivity and business agility.
3. What should enterprises be aware of, and what steps need to be taken to maximise the efficiency of their data centres?
Burgeoning data growth is a business imperative that every CIO will have to grapple with. However, organisations must be aware that the first step to ensure a long-term solution to data sprawl is to relook current data infrastructure. By simply deploying innovative storage efficiency features and adopting storage management best practices, organisations can reduce unnecessary redundancy and increase the efficiency of their storage.
Some of the methods include:
Optimising: By looking at processes that will improve optimisation such as provisioning speeds, performance, tiering and archiving, as well as identifying and reclaiming orphaned storage capacity, IT can be made more efficient. Additional capital purchases can be delayed, thus saving significant capital investment.
Consolidating and virtualising: The traditional approach of scaling storage to accommodate data growth has resulted in islands of heterogeneous multi-vendor assets which are poorly utilised, difficult to scale and manage, and expensive to operate. More importantly, these legacy systems are unlikely to be able to keep up with today’s dynamic business requirements.
Storage consolidation helps organisations pool their storage assets into a single resource and simplifies their storage infrastructure and promotes complete visibility across physical and virtual multi-vendor and multi-protocol storage environments. This flexible environment leads to greater storage utilisation and easier storage management as a single interface is used to manage the entire storage pool. This enhances productivity and efficiency of administrators, freeing their time for more strategic tasks or allowing them to manage 10 to 20 times more the capacity than traditionally possible. This in turn helps organisations reduce headcount cost, thus reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their storage infrastructure.
These savings can be further multiplied with storage virtualisation. According to both Gartner and IDC, to realise the full benefits from virtualisation, storage is an important consideration. Storage virtualisation allows savings of up to 50 per cent on storage power, cooling, and space, lowering overall data centre costs.
Automating: Automation can also improve data protection and the availability of storage and data. It allows organisations to “set and forget” so that routine administrative tasks get taken care of according to defined policies. Automated storage systems automatically tiers data based on its capacity and recovers it at a click of a button. With the added help of virtualisation in the automation process, organisations can also back up and recover data in an instant. All of these help minimise previously labour-intensive data management tasks, and effectively saves time and money for organisations.
4. What are some of the highlights of NetApp’s Data Center Fitness page launched on 28 March 2011?
The Data Center Fitness page (http://www.netapp.com/us/company/leadership/efficient-it/) is a site that is designed to promote the use of efficient IT by making it easy for visitors to evaluate their IT environment and gain insights on how to improve the health of their IT. This landing page pools together and links visitors to various new and interactive NetApp tools and resources that will enable organisations to see how they can achieve greater efficiencies in their environment.
Evaluating IT environments:
The NetApp Efficient IT Analyzer tool: In the form of a simple ten-minute quiz, this tool helps visitors analyse and evaluate the efficiency of their IT infrastructure. Visitors answer questions about their utilisation, power, space and cooling, availability, performance, capacity optimisation, management and ROI and in return, receive a full analysis their IT environment, which will also include relevant best practices, tips and techniques to help improve their IT efficiency.
White papers and technical reports: The Data Center Fitness landing page links to various white papers and technical reports that explore the methods and importance of evaluating IT environments. For example, the Forrester white paper, “Defining and Measuring IT Efficiency” offers perspectives regarding the importance of measuring, monitoring, and improving IT efficiencies. Another useful resource is the paper entitled, “If You’re Doing This, Then Your Storage Could Be Underutilized” which helps customers evaluate whether their storage systems are being fully optimised.
Improving the health of IT environments:
Efficient IT Calculator: This tool allows organisations to calculate how much they can potentially save using NetApp efficiency features, including data compression and deduplication.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.