Remember when you didnt worry about managing data storage? That was before e-commerce, e-mail and applications such as customer relationship management software created an explosion in servers, disks and data. For many today, investing in software to manage storage hardware is a must.
Consider Kevan Bohlooli, director of information management at FPL Energy. He bought more storage capacity than necessary and spent even more to manually monitor, provision, back up and maintain storage for the energy-trading division of utility company Florida Power & Light.
Bohloolis answer to ballooning storage management costs? Replace a mishmash of directly connected disks with a storage area network (SAN) and Fibre Channel switches from EMC, and buy EMC software to manage the 20-terabyte storage area network.
For companies, the question isnt whether to invest in storage management software, but whose to use. Information technology managers spent $4.7 billion on software for managing storage in 2002. After a pause in 2003, they are expected to increase storage software purchases, spending more on storage software than hardware by 2006, according to analyst firm Meta Group. Why? Companies say storage management software helps them make more-efficient use of their huge investments in disk storage.
At FPL Energy, for example, storage software lets administrators track, from one screen, how well individual disks and switches are performing, how efficiently storage is being used and how fast stored data is growing. So, rather than guess how much storage to acquire on a server-by-server basis, FPL Energy can buy and provision disk space from a central pool only as its needed.
As a result, FPL Energy now uses 85% of the disk space it purchases instead of 25% to 40%, according to Bohlooli. And FPL can now keep on top of storage with only a half-time storage administrator instead of as many as five people.
Better disk utilization and lower administrative costs arent the only benefits from the storage software. Companies say these tools help them get smarter about placing the right data on the right type of storage technology and faster when it comes to provisioning new storage.
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