As an IBM marketing manager, my job includes writing about storage technology. This post is about more than technology, though. It’s about a new breakthrough capability for managing storage costs and service levels.
I recently met with IBM Distinguished Engineer, Mike Sylvia, who has been working on a Business Transformation project to enable automated right tiering for storage in IBM data centers. Right tiering is the notion that data should be hosted on the optimal storage tier to balance cost and performance requirements.
Mike explained that applications tend to be hosted on top tier storage. When he analyzed actual usage patterns, Mike found most data can be effectively hosted on lower cost storage. Mike’s project put numbers to a problem that is often hidden from view and, until now, nearly impossible to solve.
Hosting data on the wrong storage tier turns out to be a huge efficiency problem. Mike predicts IBM will save $13 million over 3 years in one data center, by periodically moving data to the right tier. During the pilot, users saw their cost for storage drop by 50% per TB on average. This is big.
Like many advancements, IBM’s automated right tiering capability is accomplished by integrating existing technology. Mike Sylvia’s project combines storage virtualization, storage management automation and analytics. Today, IBM offers the technology in a bundled solution called SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center.
How does it work?
Step 1. IBM’s storage virtualization controller collects detailed usage metrics about storage it manages throughout the data center, without impacting application performance.
Step 2. IBM’s Storage Analytics Engine studies usage patterns over time to understand performance requirements.
Step 3: Storage tier recommendations are generated in reports that can be shared with application owners and IT management.
Step 4: Storage virtualization enables online data migration, with no disruption to applications or users.
Repeat: Usage patterns change over time, of course, so right tiering becomes an ongoing process.
Why does it work?
Automated right tiering delivers the efficiency benefits of Information Lifecycle Management without the headaches and hidden costs. Automated right tiering has significant benefits for both data owners and IT leaders, so everyone wins.
For example, application and database owners can gain the following benefits:
Applications can move to top tier storage when they need it, without waiting for a maintenance window.
Average storage costs drop significantly, without a drop in services.
IT leaders benefit, too. For example:
Storage tier decisions are based on analysis of actual usage patterns, not predictions. Storage performance management tasks are eliminated.
Data can quickly and easily be moved back to its original storage tier if requested, without incurring an outage.
IBM automated right tiering works with most storage systems, so deployment is nondisruptive.
The technology that enables automated right tiering has significant additional benefits, such as the ability to eliminate scheduled outages for storage system maintenance.
Problem solved. How has your organization addressed the storage right tiering challenge?
Watch a video of Mike Sylvia describing his automated right tiering project at the IBM Edge conference in June, 2012.
Listen to IBM storage virtualization expert and master inventor, Barry Whyte’s 2-part webcast called, “Storage Virtualization - IBM SVC – Benefits”, in April, 2012
Visit IBM’s Virtualized SAP Demo and other smarter solutions at VMworld August 26-30, 2012 in San Francisco
IBM has bundled automated right tiering technology into a new solution called SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, available through IBM sellers and Business Partners.