Rod Lucero, chief architect for IT at $2.2 billion manufactured-housing lender Conseco Finance Corp., was only looking for a new way to back up his data as part of his disaster recovery planning when he decided to buy SANsymphony storage management software. But he says he has gotten a lot more than that from the technology offered by Fort Lauderdale-based DataCore Software Corp. Essentially, he upped the utilization rate on his storage from 50% to more than 80%, eliminated two staff positions and saved the company at the very least $136,000 from reclaimed storage. The ability to pool his storage was "a huge, huge benefit," Lucero says. And he hasn't even been using the software a full year yet.
Data storage is so relatively inexpensive--and gets cheaper with each year--that companies tend to accumulate more and more without ever reviewing what they already are supporting. Technology experts have one piece of advice: There is an alternative to shelling out for more storage. Just ask Lucero.
Storage management solutions, like SANsymphony, help companies through a technology called virtualization. This allows companies to see all the storage available on different servers and then permits data to be moved easily from one part of the common storage pool to another.
The software also provides other management tools, often including the ability to back-up data. Lucero, for instance, is happy that SANsymphony lets him link together different types of hardware. Ken Horner, DataCore's vice president of marketing, says that's important because "in the real world, almost everyone has more than one type of equipment." In fact, the feature lets companies use high-end equipment for key data and less expensive storage for less important information, he says
Companies that use mainframe computers are more likely to manage their storage, but storage management is much less common among companies that use distributed computing environments like Windows and Unix, analysts say. Dennis Martin, an associate partner at the Evaluator Group, an analysis company in Greenwood Village, Colo., notes that various software work from different locations. Some, including SANsymphony, work at the storage network level, while others work off host software or are contained in storage devices.
Ray Paquet, research director for software at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Ct., says hierarchical storage management technology, which identifies data no longer in active use and sends it off to the archives, offers the biggest potential savings of the available options. "We would argue that as much of 70% of the data on disk in distributed computing is dormant after about 90 days," he says. That technology is available from big companies like IBM Corp. as well as smaller companies like Veritas Software Corp. and Legato Systems Inc.
Ultimately, Martin says, storage management software lets companies reduce the most costly element of storage--its administration. Martin contends that the savings from reductions in administrative personnel outpace those from limiting storage purchases. As the amount of storage grows, he notes, a company must "make sure it's up and running, backing it up, watching the capacity Just managing it is an issue."