Storage administrators need business-level visibility into the storage environment

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Storage administrators are the unsung heroes of the enterprise. Don’t laugh. Really, they are. They’re under constant pressure to fulfill capacity requests from users who don’t know what’s involved in provisioning hardware or configuring a network. Nor do most users understand the true cost of storage. It makes sense to request more capacity than you need when you think it costs three cents per gigabyte, but we all know that the true cost of owning storage is actually closer to $5 per gigabyte per year when data management, data protection, varying costs of storage tiers and security are taken into account.

Storage administrators are asked to support existing applications and be ready at a moment’s notice to support the new stuff. Expand capacity here. Back up this. Restore that. And it all needs to be done now if not yesterday. At the same time, the bean counters and C-Suite are hanging around eyeing storage expenditures as a way to cut costs. Sure, we can cut the storage budget in half but don’t expect to continue to meet those performance and availability SLAs that you’re touting in promotional materials.

This disconnect makes life is a constant struggle with the application folks whose sole job it is to make business systems run faster (we all have our nemesis, right?).

Good storage administrators know the language of storage (LUNS, QTrees, FA Ports, SAN, NAS, RAID, HBA). They know how to configure storage, allocate storage, replicate storage and migrate storage. But do you know what they likely don’t know? They really have no clue how a particular block of storage actually relates to the business. Sure they may know that a database server versus a web server may require different tiers of storage, but beyond that, there is very little awareness as to how this correlates to the business. 

Wouldn’t it be great if storage administrators had business-level visibility into the storage environment? They would know exactly what capacity was out on the network, how much was being used and by whom. This information could be used to determine policies and then plugged into a formula to determine the true cost of storage. This transparency would streamline the provisioning process, make users think twice about each capacity request and, most of all, improve relations with the application team.

A good chargeback solution provides this information, informing key stakeholders about the storage environment so they can make informed decisions on forecasting and capacity planning while mitigating risk and increasing utilization. The result is a more efficient storage environment that is in line with business needs.

It all starts with asking the right questions—a topic we’ll discuss in our next post.

APTARE—the global leader in IT Analytics—is the only company delivering unified backup and storage insights for heterogeneous IT environments across on-prem and hybrid-cloud