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Pain Points within the Virtual Infrastructure: How to Not Lose Your Cost Savings

If you're reading this blog chances are you're a storage practitioner, a virtual administrator, or the boss of some of those folks - and you likely know that storage is expensive. But do you know just how expensive? 

Today you can oftentimes get mid-range style storage for a per-gigabyte cost that is in the $3 to $5 range using street prices; but I'll provide the caveat that this number is always dropping!

What we sometimes fail to recognize is that as we talk to enterprise organizations today the cost of operating that storage is actually somewhere in the $5 to $8/GB on an annual basis.  When you consider that amount over the lifespan of a storage system the cost of operating dwarfs the purchase price of storage.  This sometimes gets lost, as for many enterprises there are aspects of this cost that are hard to put a precise number to. But they are big, and they add up.

The thing is this: the operational costs of storage are considerable because it is complex, and it is hard to manage. In fact a lot of that complexity revolves around storage being more physical in nature than other systems - whereas time slicing and oversubscription and similar approaches are possible in other infrastructure domains, ultimately when you store bits of data you are managing a physical system that will eventually run out of capacity.  For the virtual infrastructure this complexity has impacts.

We set out on our virtualization initiatives with this vision in mind: the idea that virtual infrastructure features such as improved workload management and consolidation will deliver some substantial reductions in the cost of our IT infrastructures. 

In reality, what happens for most organizations is that their initiatives start out well, but when they start scaling significantly complexity gets in the way and their management improvements plateau. 90% of this complexity usually comes from storage.  If not addressed quickly, as the infrastructure scales even further, the complexity can get really out of control and turn their cost savings upside down, to the point where the cost of management is also killing the capital dollar savings they get from things like consolidation.  What this graph doesn't tell you is that a good number of enterprises never figure out how to fix this, and end up stuck there with terrible consequences on their ability to scale and operationally improve.

Taneja Group has done a slew of work with vendors lately in this area, and is rapidly adding to the list.  There are some vendors who have big impacts here, like Riverbed with Granite that provide Branch Office Converged Infrastructure and stateless projection of consolidated data center storage, VMware's VSAN and their other SDDC components, and Tintri (did you see our Technology Validation?).

While it has been refreshing to see an on-going evolution in storage controller technology over the past few years, followed up by the awesome performance capabilities of solid state, the innovation momentum seems to be shifting to OPEX and TCO, and consequently to an area that will have even bigger impacts on customer pocketbooks - it might be time to refresh your shopping criteria and the focus of your strategic purchases!

  • Premiered: 03/28/14
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Storage Virtualization Virtual Infrastructure Scale Riverbed SteelFusion VMWare VSAN Tintri


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