STORAGE

  • 07/24/2014
    7:00 AM
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3 Signs You're Overspending On Data Storage

If you think public cloud storage is the cheaper way to manage the massive growth in data, think again.

If you worry increasingly about escalating data storage costs, you’re not alone. As data grows exponentially, organizations are eager to find more cost-effective and efficient ways to store this avalanche of information.

It’s enough to keep storage managers awake at night. They must locate places to store mountains of data, ensure users can gain access to it, and make sure it’s secure, even in the case of unusual events.

Consider the sheer explosion of information happening today. IDC estimates that the volume of digital bits created, replicated, and consumed across the United States will hit 6.6 zettabytes -- the equivalent of 25 billion 4 TB drives -- by 2020. This represents a doubling of volume about every three years. As for cost, in InformationWeek's 2014 State of Enterprise Storage survey 25% of companies said they lacked the cash needed to even meet current demand for storage, much less future growth.

Of course, CIOs often don’t even know how much storage their companies really have because of the rogue growth into the public cloud. Unable to get the storage needed from corporate IT (which can’t handle that $500,000 capital request), departments will spend from their operating budgets to quickly and easily grab some public cloud storage. For example, they might manage $30,000 per month in operating expenses from Amazon Web Services.

These “off the books” storage buys create availability and security risks while very quickly adding up to greater expense. Use of public cloud storage also limits IT’s visibility into and control of the storage infrastructure, which could lead to problems enforcing data storage policies important to the organization. Most CIOs publicly deny this while privately conceding it’s actually becoming viral. 

In organizations where the primary response to increased data storage capacity requirements is just to buy more of the same storage that has been used for the past five years, significant savings opportunities associated with newer technologies, including object storage and erasure coding-based data protection, are not being realized. As a result, companies are in a quandary about how to balance convenience, capacity, and cost. Often, they’re having to restrict business innovation and velocity because their costs are rising faster than their budgets.

To help determine if they’re spending too much for data storage, organizations should look for these signs: 

Sign No. 1: You’re buying public cloud because it’s perceived as “cheaper.” If an analysis of a reasonable timeframe (two or more years) still shows that public cloud storage will save you money, you’re spending way too much. In reality, there are private cloud solutions for large storage needs (1 petabyte or more) that are dramatically less expensive, providing savings on the order of 65% in TCO compared to NAS and 30% or more net present value savings compared to the public cloud. So if public cloud looks like a saver to you, beware. 

Sign No. 2: You don’t have a plan for object storage. If you’re growing fast, it’s probably because of unstructured data, such as scanned images, photos, video, audio/music files, seismic data, and office documents. Legacy file system storage architectures were not designed with the scale of today’s unstructured data in mind and are far from optimal. They can be made to work, but just as you could move 200 people across the country in 100 small planes, it’s a lot less efficient than a modern jetliner.    

Object-based storage systems do a better job of storing unstructured data, and some even go one step further by eliminating the need for replication entirely. These systems use erasure coding to provide extreme levels of reliability without the overhead of even single copies. 

Sign No. 3: Departments suddenly stop growing their storage with IT. If traditional users of storage suddenly go silent, they’ve likely gone over to the dark side of the cloud. As mentioned above, getting storage from the public cloud is fast, easy, and breathtakingly expensive.

If you have any one of the signs, consider these steps:

  1. Find out how much you’re storing in the public cloud -- The answer might surprise you.
  2. Evaluate building a private cloud with object storage. There are several providers in this business who can help you do so in a matter of weeks in a way that looks as good as a public cloud to your users, but with the reliability, security, and cost characteristics you require.
  3. If you are storing fast-growing unstructured data in NAS, and relying on replication to provide reliability, compare your cost to that of an object-based storage system that protects data using erasure coding instead.
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