• Ten Smart Things to Know About Storage

Trends, Developments and Tips to Make Your Storage Environment More Efficient

Storage Is More Than Just Servers

It’s the lifeblood of your business. Don’t let the rising costs of storage and capacity problems deplete your bank balance and take up valuable man-hours.

Small and medium businesses are famous for having user files residing on individual computers. As they get larger and/or more sophisticated, they might add a file server where everyone stores files. But ever-expanding data requirements are leading more firms to consider virtualized storage, which has traditionally been the province of larger enterprises. This approach offers a far greater amount of space than you can pack into a file server.

Cloud, consolidation and virtualization are the buzzwords that are on everyone’s lips these days when it comes to storage. But what do they mean when it comes to your business? And what are the other, not so glamorous issues that you need to be aware Storage Is More Than Just Servers of when you look at your storage needs, both in the present and in the future?

Most storage innovations over the past year have evolved to solve two main problems — bandwidth and security — and that’s why it’s important to know what’s relevant to you in the current world of rapidly evolving data and storage needs. Read on to see our top smart things to know about storage and how it could affect your business.


1. Storage Scaling

  • Server and desktop virtualization will increase the need for businesses to scale up storage systems non-disruptively as virtual machine demands increase. The more you virtualize, the more load you put onto your servers, and the more you need to utilize the storage you already have.
  • While data growth continues to explode, your capacity will be limited by your budget. To overcome this difficulty, companies will be looking for ways to increase the utilization of their storage assets in the coming year.
  • You’ll find that all-in-one storage offerings, which are gaining in popularity, contain most of the trends we’ll be talking about. They’re generally easy to use, harness virtualization technology and include some aspects of networked storage.
  • Also, the good news is that there’s a lot of unused and overallocated capacity to be reclaimed, and utilization of storage assets can be increased due to recent new technologies such as thin provisioning and deduplication. Read on to find out more about those topics, too.

With NetApp, you can boost your storage utilization by over 200%.

2. Acquisition Costs are on the Rise

  • Storage represents a significant and often-growing portion of a businesses’ total IT budget. In Forrester’s Enterprise and SMB Hardware Survey, North America and Europe, respondents reported that on average, 17% of IT budgets went to storage. This was up from the 2007 number of 10%, which indicates that storage represents a growing portion of IT spending.
  • Decreasing technology lifecycles could undermine your investment in IT infrastructure. How can you ensure that the purchases you make today can easily and cost-effectively grow with your business into the future?
  • Measure the results — don’t just buy the feature. There’s a great deal of attention on efficiency-focused tools, but real improvement won’t come just from buying a tool. Whether it’s thin provisioning, deduplication, or any other technology, it takes a solid understanding of the way the tool works and how to use it to get the desired results.
  • The effectiveness of these tools varies widely as well, so don’t assume that you will get the results you’re looking for just by buying the feature. Talk to vendors who understand what they’re selling to you and if it’s even appropriate for your business.

Buying the right storage solution for your business means you could defer additional purchases of extra storage disk racks by two years if you talk to the right vendor.

3. Storage Complexity Is Decreasing

  • As enterprise-class storage filters down the food chain, it tends to be adopted first by tech-savvy firms that have enough internal IT resources to understand and properly configure systems. The midsize business market needs to have these technologies simplified to suit a new set of customers.
  • What we see now is a big reduction in the management complexity that used to accompany networked storage and traditional storage processes. The right vendor can offer enterprise-class capabilities for the MSE market, with storage that is simple to use and affordable to purchase.
  • The latest batch of products, for example, is far easier to operate than their relatives from a couple of generations back. That doesn’t mean that the boss can use them, unless they have some level of basic computer knowledge.
  • Typically, an IT generalist, someone who perhaps looks after backup, networking, and troubleshooting on a part-time basis, should be able to operate modern small to medium business storage tools. Ease of use and reliability are just as important as power and flexibility.

How much time is your IT person spending on storage management? By implementing the right tools and solutions, customers can administer their storage in just two to three hours per week and manage up to 15 TB in less than one hour a week.


4. Thin Provisioning Is Becoming More Popular

  • Thin provisioning is the act of using virtualization technology to give the appearance of more physical resource than is available. If you always have enough resources to simultaneously support all the virtualized resources, then you are not thin provisioned.
  • Thin provisioning can help businesses simplify capacity planning, accelerate application and new-service rollout, increase storage utilization, and reduce costs. This new model of storage provisioning can help eliminate some of the most common and taxing capacity utilization and management challenges.

Consider thin provisioning to increase your storage savings and even shrink your data center footprint by 98.5%.

5. Downtime Is Getting More Expensive

  • IT downtime is becoming even more expensive than ever before. A lot of companies don’t fully understand the cost of not preparing, so as a result they are not willing to spend the money to ensure disaster doesn’t occur or to make sure that they can quickly recover. Smaller companies are particularly vulnerable to downtime catastrophes, but they don’t have to be. It’s becoming simpler and less costly to safeguard against downtime.

Speak to us, and you could see a 50% decrease in break/fix man-hours and eliminate up to $750K in downtime costs.

6. Data Migration Is Becoming More Complex

  • Often when organizations or individuals change computer systems or upgrade to new systems, they need to transfer data between storage types, formats, or computer systems. That’s when data migration comes into play.
  • It takes a lot of effort to restore user access to migrated data, and there is a perceived lack of solutions that can migrate data across differing storage platforms. You need help to organize data intelligently and present it to users logically.
  • NetApp Global Services has years of experience with data migrations with businesses of all sizes. They can do the whole migration, help with the upfront planning to ensure you make the right planning decisions, or just complement your in-house expertise.

With the right help, clients have been able to convert 140 virtual machines to a new platform in a single month.

7. You Need to Protect Your Data

  • Data protection is becoming even more essential to IT strategy. It minimizes the risk of downtime and data loss as well as the risk of a compliance breach. Unfortunately, most data protection implementations can be complex and costly and require many specialty products to be “bolted onto” your environment.
  • Also, maintaining legacy tape solutions has proven ineffective at meeting decreasing backup windows, increasing service-level expectations and overall data growth, and minimizing the impact of virtualisation. There is only so long you can continue to use an aging solution before it breaks and puts your business at risk, not to mention growing costs and complexity. A new approach with a truly integrated backup, storage and disaster recovery solution that is ideal for physical and virtual environments is needed to help ensure your business and data are secure and protected while saving time and costs.
  • NetApp® Integrated Data Protection delivers high availability, backup, compliance and disaster recovery services directly from the storage, enabling you to replace multiple products with a single high-efficiency platform.

You could reduce staff time to support backup by 75% and see an 80% reduction in backup time

8. Deduplication: Why It’s a Good Idea

  • Storage-based data deduplication reduces the amount of storage needed for a given set of files. It is most effective in applications where many copies of very similar or even identical data are stored on a single disk, a surprisingly common scenario.
  • Data deduplication is an important new technology that is quickly being embraced by MSEs as they struggle to control data proliferation. It helps eliminate duplicate data and reduce the capacity needed during backups and other data copy activities. Unfortunately, the many different deduplication approaches from various vendors can leave users bewildered.
  • As you consider this technology, make sure deduplication fits into your existing environment with minimal disruption; ultimately it should become a transparent background process. It should also have minimal impact on system performance. This is particularly true for more performance-sensitive primary storage environments and workloads.

The smart usage of deduplication means you could reduce your e-mail restores from five hours to 15 minutes and reclaim 70% disk space for Hyper-V™ guests.


9. The Cloud

  • You can’t talk about storage without mentioning the cloud. Cloud computing is a collection of computing resources (scattered across multiple locations) that can be pooled together and managed as one unit. Users typically purchase, via monthly subscription, the amount of disk, processor or memory they need, or else they receive a specific service, such as online backup or archiving of aging data. Many SMBs use cloud services such as Google Docs and Amazon EC2, but even more sophisticated tools are coming on the market that are appropriate for small to medium businesses.
  • The cloud is really an extension of virtualization technology. Instead of a single server being virtualized, however, the cloud represents the virtualization of a large group of computing resources or an entire data center. But virtualization is proving hugely popular with small businesses, many of which have little or nothing to do with the cloud.

Find out if the cloud is right for you by speaking to one of our resellers. See how it could help you save thousands in new disk acquisition costs and leverage networked storage to grow cost-effectively.

10. Unified Storage Is the Solution

  • The more storage technology evolves, the more evident it becomes that a unified approach to data storage is needed. At the foundation, unified storage means that a storage system can support multiple storage access protocols simultaneously: NAS protocols for applications that store and access storage in unstructured files and SAN protocols for applications that store and access block-level data.
  • NetApp pioneered unified storage access capability back in 2002 and has shipped well over 150,000 unified storage systems since then. Today, other storage vendors are just beginning to offer the basic level of unified storage capabilities that NetApp offered nine years ago.
  • Talk to us to get a unified storage solution that will grow with your business and use 50% less storage with NetApp compared to a baseline of traditional storage.

The field of storage is developing fast, but it’s easier than you think to take advantage of the latest cost-saving trends and developments. Be smart with your storage: speak to your local vendor about NetApp midsize businesses solutions.

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