Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Storage Management - Green IT not green

Note that the term “under storage” is substituted for “under management.” Truth be told, data management in distributed computing environments is extraordinarily lax. The best analogy for distributed storage is a huge and growing junk drawer. This point is underscored by data collated by Sun Microsystems after performing nearly 10,000 storage assessments at client facilities. Per Sun’s statistics, for every hard disk deployed by a company, roughly 30 percent of its capacity contains useful data accessed regularly as part of day to day operations. Another 40 percent must be retained for reasons of historical value, regulatory or legal compliance, or because it is intellectual property. Rarely referenced, this data belongs in an archive, preferably tape or optical because they consume far less kilowatt hours than do disk-based systems.

The balance of the space on each hard disk, some 30 percent of total disk capacity, comprises orphan data (whose owner of record no longer exists at the company), contraband data (collections of MP3 files, videos or pictures downloaded from the Internet), and good old fashioned wasted space that has been reserved by an application or file system, but never used. This capacity could be freed up through a combination of data hygiene and good storage resource monitoring and management. If that were done, and archiving was implemented, companies could return up to 70 percent of the capacity of every spindle they own today, deferring the need to invest in more storage and exacerbating the storage acquisition trend that IDC projects will total 300 percent by 2011.

This point is never brought up in the articles you read in the trades. Instead, vendors posit a number of hardware and software value-add solutions as silver bullets for Green IT. Virtualization, de-duplication, compression, re-driving arrays with larger disk drives, leveraging MAID (massive arrays of independent disk, a portion of which spin down when not in use), and thin provisioning are just a few of the green panaceas that are being discussed. Most involve plugging additional hardware into the wall, which is hardly an intelligent way to reduce power consumption.

All of these techniques deliver tactical value at best: unmanaged data will continue to grow over time and eliminate whatever short term power reductions that the new technologies deliver. They are simply re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Getting to green in IT ultimately and strategically comes down to managing data better. It costs a company virtually nothing to sort out their data junk drawer, to apply processes for classifying data so that it can be migrated over time into an archive, and to deploy storage resource management tools to spot wasted space, ownerless files and junk data in their repositories.

1 comment:

yogijp said...