New Symantec CEO Tells Conference: 'Stop Buying Storage'

Enrique Salem tells Storage Networking World attendees that storing and securing data more efficiently -- and not simply adding new capacity to handle the ever-increasing data flow -- is the way IT managers are going to have to go during the recession.

Symantec's new CEO, Enrique Salem, told attendees in a keynote address at the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando, Fla., April 7 that enterprises should stop buying new storage and focus on obtaining better mileage from their existing systems.
"Stop buying storage. You heard me right: Stop buying storage," Salem said. "How? Reduce the amount of information that you store in the first place, and make the storage you do have more flexible and efficient."
Sounds like an odd statement, coming from a storage and data security company, but Symantec certainly has its agenda, and it is nothing if not consistent. Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of storage products at Symantec, spoke the exact same message last August during the launch of the company's front-line Veritas storage management software, CommandCentral.
The fact is, while headcounts and software purchases are falling, storage hardware and data security purchasing remains on track or is increasing, thanks to the incessant amount of data flowing into businesses.
"In this economic climate, when one-third of CEOs are expecting their IT budgets to remain flat and many are expecting to see them reduced, the most important measure of your success isn't the ROI," Salem said. "It's ROY: return on yesterday."
If you want to stop buying storage, Salem said, there are four key opportunities that everyone should be looking at right now: storage resource management, thin provisioning, data deduplication and intelligent archiving.
'Orphan Storage' an Issue to Be Solved
Of course, Symantec offers those features, but so do a hundred other companies, including EMC, NetApp, Hewlett-Packard, Pillar Data Systems, Data Domain, 3PAR, IBM, Dell and COPAN. These options are in more demand all the time.
"If you're like most companies," Salem said, "you have a lot of 'orphan storage.' It's time to give your orphan storage a loving family. You often have more room to grow than you realize."
Orphan storage, in this case, refers to storage trapped in dedicated servers that goes unutilized because the capacity is not included in a virtualization scheme. Once attached to the virtualization layer, it becomes part of a much larger pool of capacity that can be used much more efficiently.
Most enterprise data centers utilize only about 15 to 35 percent of the entire storage capacity available. The remainder is used for unexpected overhead, locked out of accessibility, intentionally kept for some other purpose or simply lost track of over time.
All of it requires spinning disks and electricity from the grid that costs money on the bottom line, whether or not the storage is in service.
"We had one customer who told us that they were managing massive information growth. They estimated they were using 50 percent of their storage. We showed them they were only using 20 percent," Salem said.
"What you need are storage management solutions that work across different platforms and give you an end-to-end view of the storage you have, the storage you're using and the storage you're not.
"You need a better way to peek into your systems so you can make informed decisions about how your existing storage assets are being utilized. Storage resource management technology can help identify problem areas and consolidation opportunities and create a priority list of solutions," Salem said.
How Good Management Saves Storage Costs
How does managing storage utilization help you stop buying storage?
"When we first started working with [a large financial services company] in 2006, they were using 12 percent of their storage. We worked with them on a zero-growth storage initiative, and, two years later, they are at 41 percent," Salem said.
"That's progress. But the real measure of progress is $70 million. By deferring new storage purchases, we helped them save $70 million. If you want to see a happy CFO in a tough economy, tell them you've found a way to save them millions of dollars."
That's not going to happen at every company, but it does happen.
Salem, who previously served as the company's chief operating officer, is barely four days into his new job after taking over for the retired John Thompson, who left after 10 years as CEO on April 3. Thompson will remain as chairman of the board of directors.
Thompson had been under consideration for a couple of Obama administration jobs: secretary of commerce and federal CIO.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...