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Cutting Data Storage Costs: 10 Tips

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The cost of data storage is seen by many companies as a necessary evil — it produces no revenue yet it’s a non-optional expense. Drew Robb details ways to lessen data storage costs.

Once upon a time, storage was regarded as an expensive necessity. Not anymore. As data growth has exploded and technology has evolved, the days of paying a premium for numerous expensive disk arrays are over. Today’s priority is keeping costs down. Here are ten ways to make storage more cost efficient.

1) Smart Tape

Despite the propaganda surrounding the cloud and disk, the economics of tape are still hard to beat – if you use it smartly. One example being a blended disk/tape storage solution to optimize efficiency, with tape harnessed primarily as an archive.

“Any time you can substitute a low power consumption device (tape) for a high power consumption device (disk), you can save money,” said Jon Hiles, senior product manager at Spectra Logic. “This is particularly true when comparing the power consumption rates for the two devices over extended periods of time.”

When architecting storage to house data indefinitely (for regulatory, compliance, research, or data mining purposes), directing long-term data to tape makes financial sense. Hiles recommends making data readily available using an extensible file system like that found in an active archive to maximize value. Such file systems allow direct writes and reads of data to tape in non-proprietary formats without staging to disk.

2) Offsite Data Protection

Data protection has long been an expensive business: build a remote data center; fill it with servers and storage; and add in the backup and replication software to protect data. More and more companies are foregoing that expense in favor of outsourcing.

“Companies have the option to trim or even forgo the capital and operational costs, as well as complexities of traditional server backup (agent licenses, media servers, tapes, libraries, media pickup services) with an outsourced solution,” said Jeff Bell, director of corporate marketing at Zetta.

According to Bell’s numbers, traditional methods for protecting 10TB of data with both disk and offsite tape for three years would cost more than $350,000. He quotes about a third of that cost for outsourced data protection by providers such as Zetta. An outsource approach eliminates the upfront capital expenses, backup software licenses, and the cost of removable media. It also reduces complexity and risk.

3) Software Virtualization

There are many ways to virtualize storage. In some cases, the vendor suggests throwing away old hardware to buy a brand new virtualization array. A cheaper way is to leave legacy disk in place and incorporate it into a shared storage pool using software-based virtualization.

Read the rest at Enterprise Storage Forum.

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