Storage Optimization: Performance, Availability, Capacity, Effectiveness

November 23, 2008 – 5:50 pm

Storage I/O trends

With the IT and storage industry shying away from green hype, green washing and other green noise, there is also a growing realization that the new green is about effectively boosting efficiency to improve productivity and profitability or to sustain business and IT growth during tough economic times.

This past week while doing some presentations (I’ll post a link soon to the downloads) at the 2008 San Francisco installment of Storage Decisions event focused on storage professionals, as well as a keynote talk at the value added reseller (VAR) channel professional focused storage strategies event, a common theme was boosting productivity, improving on efficiency, stretching budgets and enabling existing personal and resources to do more with the same or less.

During these and other presentations, keynotes, sessions and seminars both here in the U.S. as well as in Europe recently, these common themes of booting efficiency as well as the closing of the green gap, that is, the gap between industry and marketing rhetoric around green hype, green noise, green washing and issues that either do not resonate with, or, can not be funded by IT organizations compared with the disconnect of where many IT organizations issues exist which are around power, cooling, floor space or footprint as well as EH&S (Environmental health and safety) and economics.

The green gap (here, and here, and here) is that many IT organizations around the world have not realized due to green hype around carbon footprints and related themes that in fact, boosting energy efficiency for active and on-line applications, data and workloads (e.g. doing more I/O operations per second-IOPS, transactions, files or messages processed per watt of energy) to address power, cooling, floor space are in fact a form of addressing green issues, both economic and environmental.

Likewise for inactive or idle data, there is a bit more of a linkage that green can mean powering things off, however there is also a disconnect in that many perceive that green storage for example is only green if the storage can be powered off which while true for in-active or idle data and applications, is not true for all data and applications types.

As mentioned already, for active workloads, green means doing more with the same or less power, cooling and floor space impact, this means doing more work per unit of energy. In that theme, for active workload, a slow, large capacity disk may in fact not be energy efficient if it impedes productivity and results in more energy to get the same amount of work done. For example, larger capacity SATA disk drives are also positioned as being the most green or energy efficiency which can be true for idle or in-active or non performance (time) sensitive applications where more data is stored in a denser footprint.

However for active workload, lower capacity 15.5K RPM 300GB and 400GB Fibre Channel (FC) and SAS disk drives that deliver more IOPS or bandwidth per watt of energy can get more work done in the same amount of time.

There is also a perception that FC and SAS disk drives use more power than SATA disk drives which in some cases can be true, however current generations of high performance 10K RPM and 15.5K RPM drives have very similar power draw on a raw spindle or device basis. What differs is the amount of capacity per watt for idle or inactive applications, or, the number of IOPS or amount of performance for active configurations.

On the other hand, while not normally perceived as being green compared to tape or IPM and MAID (1st generation and MAID 2.0) solutions, along with SSD (Flash and RAM), not to mention fast SAS and FC disks or tiered storage systems that can do more IOPS or bandwidth per watt of energy are in fact green and energy efficiency for getting work done. Thus, there are two sides to optimizing storage for energy efficiency, optimizing for when doing work e.g. more miles per gallon per amount of work done, and, how little energy used when not doing work.

Thus, a new form of being green to sustain business growth while boosting productivity is Gaining Realistic Economic Efficiency Now that as a by product helps both business bottom lines as well as the environment by doing more with less. These are themes that are addressed in my new book

“The Green and Virtual Data Center” (Auerbach) that will be formerly launched and released for generally availability just after the 1st of the year (hopefully sooner), however you can beat the rush and order your copy now to beat the rush at Amazon and other fine venues around the world.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
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