Some companies looking to utility computing to improve resource utilization and manage cost allocation in heterogeneous IT environments are starting off by scrutinizing their storage infrastructure.
Norm Fjeldheim, CIO of San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., said the virtualization of IT through a utility computing model was the only way his organization could keep pace with growth and business demands.
"We started looking at storage and the vision of turning storage into a virtual thing. We were getting 15 to 20 percent utilization; now, were up to 30 percent and 40 percent in some areas," said Fjeldheim. "I believe IT departments will have to embrace utility computing if they want to be competitive."
Qualcomm saw these improvements by using Veritas Software Corp.s SANPoint Control software. The company also uses Veritas Cluster Server on top of VMware Inc.s virtualization software in its utility computing environment.
Veritas, of Mountain View, Calif., is tweaking its product line to galvanize the marriage between application management and storage management. The goal is to optimize storage by enabling IT departments like that at Qualcomm to manage applications based on performance and business needs while adhering to service-level requirements.
At its Veritas Vision Conference here this month, Veritas unveiled new and updated products to further its efforts. CommandCentral Storage 4.0, which combines Veritas SANPoint Control and Storage Reporter, automates server provisioning and storage provisioning. CommandCentral Availability 4.0 will support enhanced cluster reporting activity. Both products will debut in July. In addition, the software vendor released Veritas MicroMeasure, its new usage and metering technology.
Veritas i3 7.0, slated for beta testing next month, features integration with Veritas Storage Foundation and Veritas Volume Manager to merge file system and volume management metrics into user-to-storage performance management. Tight coupling with Veritas Cluster Server will give i3 7.0 expanded correlation capabilities via availability and failure alerts to monitor and manage application service levels more effectively.
The promise of cost control and redundancy offered by Veritas utility computing vision has drawn the attention of online retailer Amazon.com Inc., which has deployed Veritas Cluster and NetBackup.
"We run our systems harder," said Rick Brauen, senior manager for database design services at Seattle-based Amazon. "We push them to the edge. For us, because the Web page has to be delivered, [just having a] bigger box doesnt help to find bad software fast and fix it."
David Bucciero, director of systems services at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., is embracing utility computing to get a better handle on backing up structured and unstructured data, an issue that is compounded by 40 percent annual growth in server utilization.
"Structured data is whats there in the machine room, [and] the unstructured data is what lies in peoples laptops and desktops," said Bucciero. "We wanted to improve records management to back up that data and standardize our service offering" through a utility computing format.
With insufficient funding to launch its utility computing concept, Dartmouth opted for a chargeback, usage-based billing policy. Currently, only 500 students and faculty are charged monthly for backup services based on the number of gigabytes of data stored. Bucciero deployed Veritas CommandCentral to go directly into Dartmouths general ledger to debit departments and transfer internal funds.
Bucciero said his goal is eventually to offer the backup service, which performs nightly incremental backups using Veritas NetBackup and an EqualLogic Inc. iSCSI (Internet SCSI) storage device, campuswide to more than 5,000 users.
Before storage utility computing can be a viable enterprise option, lingering user questions must be answered, analysts say. Specifically, customers want storage management software that is hardware-independent and can shift across diverse vendor infrastructure and devices.
This coincides with Veritas message. President and CEO Gary Bloom said at the conference that the growing complexity of storage mired in a multifaceted environment is begging for a remedy such as utility computing.
"If computers are smart enough to detect [application problems], then theyre smart enough to fix" them, said Bloom. "What application performance management does is start giving the customer the view all the way through the way the user views the system. You can measure the reliability and availability of the storage and the reliability and availability of the server."