Storage Tracking

The disappointing fact is that 58 percent of users still are not using SRM tools

George Crump

April 29, 2009

3 Min Read
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In the recent "2009 Stop Buying Storage Survey" completed by Symantec, one of the questions that surprised me was how users are tracking their storage utilization. A full 42 percent claim to be using some sort of Storage Resource Management (SRM) tool. While that certainly represents progress -- although I'd be curious to know what they actually consider an SRM tool -- the disappointing fact is that 58 percent of users still are not using an SRM tool.

Symantec commissioned this survey through Applied Research in March 2009 with a total of 400 IT professional respondents from the United States with direct responsibility over their organizations' storage infrastructures and operations. The 2009 Stop Buying Storage survey highlights storage use trends and other habits related to the optimization of current storage capacity.

These are organizations that have enough storage that manual tracking is not going to cut it. Yet a full 25 percent of these organizations are either manually tracking storage (13 percent), guessing based on industry averages (5 percent), not tracking utilization (1 percent) or worse -- they are estimating how much capacity they are using (6 percent). It is probably a safe assumption that these companies significantly over-bought capacity in the past and are accustomed to living off the excess, a strategy that probably won't fly anymore. At least these companies knew they were tracking the data manually.

Other respondents indicated that they were using file system utilities to track utilization (16 percent). I would really characterize that as manual tracking. My guess would be that most of these results are put into a spreadsheet. So that brings us to 41 percent with no real tool.

There were two responses that seemed somewhat fair. First, there were those that were using an outside firm (8 percent) to track utilization -- glad to see some reseller was successful in getting those quarterly storage audits sold. Second, there was a group of respondents that figured out that backup (9 percent) can give you a lot of details about this data. At some level it can tell you what your total capacity is (full) and what your change rate is (incremental). This assumes that all your systems are backed up and by the same tool, although that is seldom the case.With server and storage virtualization, the environment is too dynamic now. In addition, these days containment is key, and reducing the storage expenditure and increasing storage administrator efficiency are top projects for many organizations. As we discussed in our recent article, "Maximizing Your Storage Cost Cutting Efforts," trying to take on these projects without the benefit of establishing a baseline and then tracking progress is like mowing an overgrown yard blindfolded -- you'll definitely cut something, but it won't be very organized and you may cut the wrong things.

George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland , which provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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