HDS: Storage virtualization tackles hidden costs

Misperception of cheap storage devices means companies not looking at virtualizing storage but it offers as many benefits as server virtualization and eliminates hidden costs, says exec.

Low-priced storage devices have led many organizations to believe that there are not much cost advantages to be had from virtualizing their storage layer. However, a Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) executive argues otherwise, saying that storage virtualization offers as many benefits as that of server virtualization.

Chief economist David Merrill told ZDNet Asia in an interview Thursday that because enterprise storage hardware are comparatively cheaper than servers, many IT professionals see the need for server virtualization as a means to cut cost and better utilize its investment ahead of storage virtualization.

This is not the case, however. The executive said that companies should adopt a more nuanced perspective on storage costs as, at times, the price of a storage disk make up only a fraction of the total cost of ownership (TCO).

In fact, HDS has identified 34 different categories in its measurement for storage costs that companies need to pay more attention to, he said. These include hardware depreciation, maintenance and provisioning time as well as easily forgotten ones such as migration and outage costs.

Elaborating, Merrill said cost of migration is a "hidden" cost as it is only incurred at the end of a storage array's lifespan. During the migration process, organizations will need to keep both the old and new systems running side-by-side for up to six months. Besides the obvious power costs, companies will also have to pay for the tools, labor, time and effort to migrate, he pointed out.

The executive also cautioned against randomly buying storage devices based solely on the lowest price available as this could possibly lead to more outages due to lack of support from the hardware vendors.

"Such outages could lead to real costs to businesses [in terms of its reputation] and their revenue," he added.

Merrill then pointed out that there is no "one-size-fits-all approach" to deciding which cost measurements are relevant to an organization but they should make an effort to find out.

Server, storage virtualization complementary
Conceding that server virtualization is more popular among companies currently, the HDS executive believes the relationship between both technologies are "complementary".

When organizations see the benefits and savings derived from virtualizing their servers, this will lead them to think if they can achieve similar savings for their storage layer, he explained.

Merrill suggested that companies should embark on virtualizing both their storage and servers for "improved benefits". After all, both technologies promise savings in physical datacenter space and help reduce companies' overall carbon footprint by reducing the amount of power needed to run more hardware, he explained.