I heard an interesting comment the other day from a Product Management friend of mine. He was talking about a recent customer briefing he was giving where the customer’s main goal was zero growth storage. That may sound like an odd goal given that we have all seen the leading analysts’ charts on data growth: up and to the right! So it seems counter intuitive that you would be able to hold storage growth flat. That was my initial reaction, but then I started thinking, “Well, how would you go about doing that?”
I admit there was Corona involved as I pondered this more, but really given the stuff that we as an industry have accomplished, we should be able to at least come close right? I mean if my local golf course can send me a text offering to book me a tee time in the next 45 min because it’s slow right now, we should be able to figure out where the under/over-utilized storage devices are in our environment without resorting to spreadsheets and tiger teams.
The problem has been that every vendor has its own product, and to get it to talk to anyone else’s product always costs more money. Either some extra hardware (controllers, or the like) or some long, expensive professional services engagement that seems designed to provide the vendor’s people with long term employment security rather than you and your team. Most times the solution is to do a straight data dump from the vendor array (SMI-S or similar), and then provide you with some CLI to develop scripts that will present that data to you in a form you can actually use.
This last step is often times the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Scripting requires maintenance every time you upgrade arrays or add arrays from different vendors. It just becomes unwieldy, and something that is managed sporadically (i.e. only in an emergency), and often the knowledge resides with one person (I hope Bob is in today!). This makes it tough to really trust that you have accurate visibility into your storage infrastructure to support a zero growth goal. Add in the complexity of a virtualized environment and it become even more difficult to understand which hosts/VMs are using what storage, if they have been allocated too much, etc. You get the idea.
In the latest release of ViPR SRM (3.5) you will notice that we have added support for many heterogeneous storage arrays. While that is not dramatically different from other vendors, we have Solution Packs that automatically give you the information you need to understand with regard to the different devices in your environment (switches, hosts and storage arrays) such as configuration details, capacity, performance, relationship dependencies, etc. Think of the time savings involved, just from script maintenance! Plus with this level of visibility at your fingertips, you can work on making sure you’re meeting your customers’ service levels.
So, whether or not your main goal is zero growth storage, or just to keep storage costs in some sort of predictable range, your first step should be to get a good storage resource management tool. They have come a long way since a few years ago…some of them anyway! But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the ViPR SRM community and see what users and experts with first hand experience are saying.