How to Provide and Pay for Enterprise Storage

The demand and technology for storing large volumes of data continue to change—and change rapidly. Enterprise storage solutions are not one-size-fits-all. Prices, availability and performance can vary dramatically depending on an organization’s sourcing strategy, the storage solutions implemented and their associated technologies.

Capacity and demand management issues are driving many large organizations to reclaim responsibility for their storage needs rather than depend on the hardware and software provided by an outsourcing partner. An enterprise with large storage capacity and substantial buying power can often negotiate favorable, or better, pricing when it works directly with a storage manufacturer. Since 70 to 80 percent of the overall price per gigabyte paid to an outsourcing provider goes toward hardware and software, owning these assets and determining their lifecycle can significantly reduce costs for large companies.

Although disk prices for hardware and software are dropping, capacity demand is increasing, which means the cost of storage is also increasing. When a company owns its storage assets, it most often benefits from a pricing model based on the level of staffing required to operate, administer and support the storage. Staffing levels depend on the amount of change, the complexity of the architecture and the level of automation and virtualization. A per-used-GB pricing model, as opposed to a per-installed or per-allocated-GB model, better reflects the overall effort to manage storage.

When the enterprise itself controls the architecture and design of the overall storage solution, it must take on the job of staying current with new technologies and testing and integrating these new solutions into existing environments. It pays to remember that when a provider controls the architecture, it will almost always leverage the technologies with which it has the most experience and if the provider is also a company that manufactures storage solutions, it will typically choose that technology as its primary platform.

Of course, the cloud has introduced an entirely new layer of complexity to how companies manage their storage. Cloud teams manage end-to-end resources for all infrastructure technology towers. Converged and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions designed with built-in automation can simplify the work of moving applications to the cloud by automating and consolidating management of storage, servers and network. Since public cloud providers typically charge for data egress, an organization moving data to the cloud needs to determine usage patterns of any given application before it can accurately forecast its budget.

Organizations that have bought into the fallacy that disk storage is cheap often have an immature or non-existent demand management process. A well-defined demand management process controls storage resource usage based on business requirements for capacity, performance and availability, so that the IT architecture team can define the storage infrastructure to best serve those needs.

Demand management should always reside with the organization’s retained IT department, even if the storage assets and architecture reside with the service provider. The organization must maintain visibility and authorization over requests for new capacity to ensure storage assets are being well used and performance is not compromised. Service level agreements that provide insight into storage utilization, performance and availability per server and/or per application can help drive the desired behavior by both the provider and the business.

ISG helps enterprises calculate their storage needs and weigh their options for optimal performance and cost. Contact me directly to discuss further.

About the author

Dr. Cindy LaChapelle brings over 25 years of expertise in technical strategy, IT outsourcing (infrastructure) and data centre performance assessment to ISG’s clients as a Principal Consultant. Cindy’s in-depth infrastructure review, design and project management experience includes leading complex organizational assessment and transformation in demanding IT data centre environments; sourcing strategy development; and has specialized expertise in data and storage assessment and lifecycle management as well as backup and recovery and data protection strategies. Cindy has worked with clients in many different industry and government sectors to help them collect and analyze technical and business data and then to execute, successfully articulate and deliver unique and cost effective technology solutions to the business.