It seems that all of our heads are in the cloud – cloud computing, that is. Cloud computing has swept the IT community by storm. As a result, the terms cloud computing and cloud storage have gained exponential popularity. However, obtaining notoriety is only the first hurdle in becoming a sustainable long-term trend that delivers value. Business executives must delineate between marketing hyperbole and solutions that deliver real functionality and value.
What is Cloud Storage?
One study concluded that although storage is initially cheap to buy, a majority of storage’s total cost of ownership is spent on maintenance. As a result, because storing huge and growing volumes of enterprise data is not sustainable from either a cost or management perspective, many IT departments are looking to cloud storage as a cost-effective and simpler way to store data. Hailed by some as a “storage game changer,” cloud storage has a unique architecture as the data is stored on multiple virtual servers rather than being hosted on dedicated servers. Companies that require their data to be hosted either buy or lease storage capacity from IaaS hosting companies and use it to meet their end user’s storage needs. Hosting companies operate large data centers that may physically span across multiple servers and in multiple data centers. The data center operators then in turn, virtualize the resources according to customer requirements and expose them as virtual servers for the customers to use.
The Perfect Storm
A client of ours recently engaged in iterative cloud storage project. This company quickly realized the benefits of economies of scale when they began their cloud journey by “backing up to the cloud”. The executive was quite proud about his team’s efforts toward “reaching for the cloud” and because of the cost reduction and efficiency increase he realized after backing up to the cloud, he wanted to move some applications and their accompanying storage onto the cloud.
However, he was quite frustrated because no one could completely predict his organization’s storage usage of these applications. He stated he could not make smarter purchasing decisions because of his team’s inability to provide a visual, actionable storage intelligence report. He summed it up best when he stated, “I do not need data – I need intelligence!”
We realized that three cloud metaphors were to blame. These include that the analysis was not visual, not thorough, and time consuming to attain.
A rough patch – It’s foggy in the clouds. You can’t ‘get’ what you can’t ‘see’. This executive stated that each time he asked for a Storage Area Network (SAN) analysis report, he received a ream of paper filled with an over-whelming amount of information. He simply did not have the time to pour through reams of data to make a thoughtful decision.
Behind every cloud there is another cloud. Clouds can be very dense – just like accurately finding information and performing analyses can be overwhelming. The tragic flaw with most SAN tools is that they can only analyze homogeneous environments. This executive’s environment was filled with EMC, HP, and IBM SANs. Thus, the reams of data he received were a result of three separate, voluminous SAN reports.
The sun always shines above the clouds. When he asked his team to ‘roll-up’, the report into a user-friendly format, they responded that they do not have the time, given the current human resource constraints. Ironically, this is especially true even when a company has a storage tool in place. Most tools, including excel, require a person, who is already overworked, to learn, maintain, and hopefully, if their work week allows, use the tool.
This is why they introduced Visual Storage Intelligence to enable his team with the insight that they needed. Visual Storage Intelligence reduced complexity and provided a report that quickly enabled storage utilization intelligence without learning a new tool.
Benefits of utilizing Visual Storage Intelligence
Ready to Use. Delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering or frequent report, Visual Storage Intelligence™ does not require additional training or datagathering.
Rapidly Provides Insight. Enables IT to realize, reduce and efficiently reallocate storage to meet the needs of the end-user. The summary provides a snapshot of the SAN environment which helps to complete a root-cause analysis of issues.
Reports an Overall Picture. By consolidating and distilling only those relevant problems, Visual Storage Intelligence™ provides the means from which a person can make accurate decisions. Hundreds of pages are summarized into a small set of charts and graphs. This visual report contains data summarized across all the storage arrays.
Enables Future Planning. Users are able to obtain tremendous present and future benefits. By quickly and efficiently analyzing the SAN, users spend more time proactively planning future storage allocation needs. This lead time enables the user to be able to stick to budget constraints but also make more efficient use of financial resources.