Why is storage growth so high?

By Juan Orlandini
6/27/2011

We never seem to have enough space.
I keep talking about the good old days when I did this or that, and it's starting to make me feel like an old codger. But, there're lessons to be learned in what we did before. So, let me tell you another story.

Back in the day, disk storage space was expensive. I mean really expensive. We measured things in megabytes. Large files were tens of kilobytes. In my admin days, we used to give users a handful (at most) of megabytes of storage. We still managed to do amazing things with what is now essentially considered rounding off errors. To do that, we had to measure everything that we did very carefully. Very carefully. I remember writing accounting programs to measure how much CPU (in cycles) and disk (in blocks) each and every user used on all of the computers in the department. We knew to a high degree of certainty exactly how much space we had, how much was being used, and by whom. All the time. Recalcitrant users were easy to find, and we had tools to make them respect authority (oh the power of the sysadmin!).

By and large, that's no longer true today.

Recently, I heard a CIO of a very large organization say something along the lines of "why are storage costs so high? Because we don't have a chargeback model! We simply cannot compete with Amazon without one." Now's that a very loaded statement. In three sentences he brought out:

  • The lack of "good" enterprise storage reporting
  • The inability of most large organization to measure where their storage is
  • The fact that most organizations don't have a chargeback model
  • That most cannot even assign a cost to storage
  • Forget about tiering
  • The pressure to move to the cloud (compete against Amazon) – but they can can't determine if the cloud is the right move because they can't measure internal cost versus external costs

Any one of those comments is a topic for a lengthy discussion. And he said it all in three sentences. Where do you even start?

May I make a suggestion? Pick the low hanging fruit. Tackle the easiest problems first: find out where you are. You can't do any of the other stuff until you have measured and understood where you are. I feel a little salesy by telling you this, but we offer a tremendously cool, easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy reporting tool that will get you to step 1. We call itStorageScape. Give us a shout and we can give you all the details.

Oh… and you don't have to write a single script to make it work. There has been progress.