Like everyone else these days, I’ve been watching the economic news with a feeling of dread combined with a strong sense of outrage. How did those idiots – and by “those idiots” I mean “them” and not “us” – screw this all up for the rest of us. Luckily, the talking heads on the news shows all assure us things will get better – just as soon as we hit absolute rock bottom.
In the mean time, life goes on for all of those who have to keep the lights on and the IT systems running. The only difference is that we’re now asked to do more with less, or in some cases the same with a lot less. But all is not lost. There are solutions that can help businesses do more without breaking the already reduced budget. The old mantra was ROI – return on investment. Executives needed to see that the cost of new IT purchases was justified by what they could return. But that was in the good times. These days, the goal is ROA – return on assets. Show that the business can make better use of the data center equipment it already has. Virtualization is the first solution that comes to mind. Server virtualization can make full use of compute power by hosting multiple application servers in a single box. Storage virtualization offers similar efficiencies through consolidation and thin provisioning to reduce the cases of under-utilized equipment. Why purchase another 10-20TB of storage, when there may already be 20TB of wasted space assigned to servers that are not using it. And while this is not a new idea, the goal should be to achieve these efficiencies with the existing storage subsystems the company already owns, and not to go out and buy a new storage system that provides this. Remember, the goal is to do more with the assets you already have. The way to do this is with software. Software that works with any type of storage. Software that works with your existing Fibre Channel SAN (if you have one) or with your existing LAN (if you don’t). Software that works with your servers – whether these are physical servers or virtual servers. But most importantly, software that works with the applications your business relies on. Because in the end, the whole reason for all the hardware, and now the software, is to run these applications. Beyond storage virtualization, this software would also provide other advanced services that will let users do more with less. Data protection services that let users keep multiple versions of the important application data without requiring special hardware and using the existing storage in the most efficient manner. Rather than keeping multiple full copies of important data, it would use space efficient delta snapshots. This means that users could have 20 to 30 delta snapshots in less space than currently used to keep 2 or 3 full copies. More copies with less space. And more efficient copies can also mean more frequent copies. Data protection with remote replication gives this software the ability to provide disaster recovery, again without requiring special hardware to link the two sites. Having these features in software rather than in hardware means users are free to select different storage subsystems at the different sites. So if the business does need to purchase any new storage, it is free to choose the one that offers the best price rather than being forced to purchase one that’s compatible with the storage it already uses. Having advanced software means the replication features are optimized to analyze data, to ensure that amount of data transmitted is the minimum needed. This allows the replication feature to operate over long distances using the least amount of bandwidth, allowing the business to use existing WAN connections rather than being forced to upgrade to larger, more expensive connections. Again, do more with less. So in these tough economic times, the way to do more with less is to use the right software rather than investing in more hardware. At least in my humble opinion. What do you think?