Storage Cost Calculator, or How We Opened the Black Box

    As you know, for the IT business is a black box. I think it is no secret to anyone that sometimes IT is a black box, even for the IT people themselves. New people came, those who knew why the ceiling in the basement of the mop came out. Technologies rushed forward, and the specificity of the current architecture does not always allow to keep pace with them. But this is half the trouble. The second part of the problem is that this black box must be fed. In the sense of money. I mean IT budgeting. Have you ever noticed that it looks like a sacrifice? In the autumn, when nature sends people its gifts, the period of budgeting begins. Not everyone will live to the end, but those who are lucky will never be the same.

    But let's get closer to the topic. Our customer works in a stagnant industry, the business no longer grows in double digits per year, competitors do not sleep and are up to no good, so effective management is looking for ways to tighten the screws. Absolutely logical step - to reduce the cost of a black box. But, on the other hand, a wave of diverse data is growing, sweeping away everything in its path. And data is the same asset as, for example, customers: they need to be stored and be able to work with them. What am I summing up? Situation: business is not growing, and IT, in particular, data storage, is growing. And it does it completely indecently, so much so that the cost of storage will soon exceed the marketing budget. Thus, the customer has a revolutionary situation: TOP-management does not understand why it is necessary to spend on data storage, they want to optimize costs, "Cut bones to hell without waiting for peritonitis." In addition, the CIO must also show that the company has chosen the most efficient option from the point of view of price-quality of all possible ways of storage development. In such situations, very often the issue is resolved with the help of an external independent arbiter.

    And do not kill each other.

    What came the client

    It was necessary to calculate TCO and business cases for data storage systems, assess business requirements and propose the most optimal, effective storage strategy for storage systems. By and large, the customer was worried about the answers to the questions:

    • What new (modern / prospective) storage types will suit me?
    • How do they relate to my storage types?
    • What data and how to post, what will be the effect?
    • What vendors and how to implement new types of storage?
    • How to ensure compliance with the required continuity values ​​(RTO / RPO)?

    My name is Mr. Wolfe and I solve problems!

    Our company is well acquainted with the situation of the customer, we have been working closely together for a long time. We keep abreast of data storage technologies, we have experience and expertise in various vendors, architectures, etc. Obviously, to solve such a problem, it is more profitable for the client to connect external consulting, and his choice fell on his long-time IT partner.

    It was necessary to propose the most effective strategy for the further development of storage for several years, taking into account the maximum use of all the functionality of existing equipment, and at the same time - the minimum TCO for the entire updated data storage area.

    What did we have?

    When the company was developing intensively, in the process of growth it spent on IT without regard to the efficiency of the invested funds. Important was the growth rate. Over the past six years, a zoo of storage solutions has been formed, which required modernization and support money. Corporate storage consisted of 150 disk arrays with 13 petabytes of data, archives on tapes and other media. The data were broken down into classes of criticality about 10 years ago, which did not reflect the current world view, business requirements for speed, reliability, resiliency, etc.

    Since the IT landscape is complex and branched out, we decided to conduct research on the 30 most critical business systems with unique characteristics and / or requirements. All other business systems somehow boiled down to one of the 30 selected types.

    It was also necessary to revise the data classification system. Storage class is the basic element of resource classification for a specific storage landscape. One class includes data with similar storage density, performance, availability and cost requirements. This typology of storage classes allows you to switch to the cost of one terabyte of stored information and transparently calculate the cost of data storage for a specific business system. For each class, an architecture is worked out, more precisely, recommendations on the use of certain solutions.

    In addition to the above, it was necessary to find and discuss problem points:

    • IP requirements do not match storage class;
    • unreasonably used expensive Hi-End;
    • excess number of copies of data.

    What have we done?

    First we collected landscape data. We figured out how storage classes are distributed across existing storage systems, how backups are organized, what is the utilization of storage systems and RMS, etc. Analyzed the current distribution by storage class, functional requirements, backup and recovery methods used, evaluated RTO / RPO. Based on statistical and marketing data, a data growth forecast was made.

    Based on the results of the analysis, they proposed a classification system of 11 classes, which takes into account the requirements of the business and the capabilities of modern storage systems. Why exactly 11? First, it is the lucky number Slevin. And secondly, it was a dream to our expert. As you can imagine, we had no choice. And if no joke: an increase in the number of classes would unnecessarily complicate the system, and a decrease would greatly increase the specific cost of some resources.

    We identified problem points and suggested solutions:

    • assign the appropriate storage class to the resources;
    • switch to using mid-range;
    • use storage optimization techniques (deduplication, compression, etc.);
    • decommission obsolete equipment with more efficient replacement.

    As you can imagine, this is the potential to optimize storage costs.

    We also developed an algorithm for choosing a storage class for each business system:

    About money

    We calculated various variants of the TCO model for 5 years for different vendors taking into account discounts for a specific customer and using the developed classification system. Of course, in Excel. A calculator is a set of tables that calculate the cost of one terabyte of each class for the further calculation of the cost of storing data for each business system. With it, we consider the total cost of ownership of the storage of a certain typical configuration for a specific customer, taking into account its disaster recovery solutions and geo-backup. At the input of the calculator - producer prices, taking into account discounts and special offers, at the output - numbers and schedules to help make the right decision. We consciously use Excel, because it has all the necessary mathematical apparatus for calculations. This is a simple and intuitive tool.

    They built beautiful graphics and made a presentation. Now you can clearly see which option is cheaper for the first year of ownership, and which for five years.

    On the other hand, it is important that IT and business agree (as far as possible) on data storage requirements. Also, the development of storage systems now is not throwing from side to side and prompt patching of holes, but a completely predictable story that is understandable to both IT and business. Plus, the coveted Excel allows you to recalculate TCO in the case of price changes, landscape, rate of change, and so on.

    The black box is no longer so black :)

    Results of the project

    • The budgeting process of storage has become more transparent for business;
    • Critical business data is distributed and stored in accordance with current business requirements;
    • There is a calculator for calculating and comparing TCO;
    • Solved the problem of internal optimization, which reduced the cost of data storage.

    Igor Tukachev, Consultant, Jet Info Systems Design Center

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