Hitachi: Companies have 'horrible' storage utilisation

Many companies are not using their storage effectively and could avoid buying new hardware by virtualising and looking at implementing a tiering policy, according to Hitachi Data Systems

Companies have a "horrible asset utilisation problem" with their storage that could be fixed by virtualisation and tiering, rather than buying new hardware, according to Hitachi.

On average, most of the companies that Hitachi Data Systems' chief economist, David Merrill, speaks to have around 2TB of actual data being stored, replicated and backed up across 100TB of capacity, he told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. Businesses could cut their storage cost by making better use of existing hardware, he said.

"We have a horrible utilisation issue right now with storage," Merrill said, but "we have the technologies [to deal with it] at our fingertips, we don't have to consume another kilowatt of power or another square metre of floor space, we can do a lot with what we have right now."

He said virtualised storage could help companies make the most out of their capacity and that this technology "is largely untapped". He also advocated storage tiering — a concept where data is kept in a variety of storage mediums, with mission-critical data on the more expensive, higher performing systems such as flash or high availability drives, and less frequently accessed data on the cheapest possible medium, such as tape.

Good practice is to split storage across four tiers, he said. The cost ratio of these technologies should be 11:7:3:1, "which says that tier four [storage] should be one eleventh the cost, not the price, of tier one".

We don't have to consume another kilowatt of power or another square metre of floor space, we can do a lot with what we have right now.

– David Merrill, Hitachi Data Systems

Price is the capital expenditure up front for the equipment while cost incorporates this plus the operational expenses of electricity, staff, maintenance and so on, he said.

By implementing a tiering policy like this, companies should be able to make more use of their existing capacity and have to spend less on future products.

"Our critical problem is we have way too much tier-four data in a tier-one infrastructure — way too many... trailer parks in the middle of Manhattan," he said. "We cannot afford to have this cheap data sitting in a high-cost infrastructure, that's our problem right now."

Most enterprise vendors have incorporated storage tiering into their hardware, such as HP, Hitachi, IBM, EMC and NetApp.

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