Cutting Storage Costs

By Drew Robb

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While the cost of raw storage has fallen considerably, utilization has not increased. This means at growing companies like Cisco Systems, where data center space is at a premium, it spends too much on too little.

"Two years ago, we counted storage utilization at only 20 percent," said Bill Williams, IT Storage Operations Lead for Cisco's IT Department. "As we had no way of tracking usage and no prediction, we were paying a large check for nothing. That's why we decided to focus on achieving more of a consolidated 'storage as a utility' model to raise utilization levels and lower TCO."

In a relatively short time, the organization has taken major strides towards achieving this goal. In 2001, its 700 TB of data was almost all direct attached storage (DAS), though a few storage area networks (SAN) islands were also interspersed. While the data volume has mushroomed to 2.1 PB, DAS has sunk to only 10% of the total. In its place is 65% in SAN and 25% on network attached storage (NAS).

Part of the reason behind such a revolution in storage is simple economics. Cisco's data center budget is $64 million a year and about half of that is spent on storage according to Williams. By consolidating storage, the company has taken storage TCO down from 40-cents per MB to 10-cents per MB, and that, said Williams, is calculated by looking at all costs.

Today, Cisco has a total of 30 SAN islands. Internally it was deploying 48 Brocade and McData switches. That's 2,340 ports combined which includes 16, 32 and 64-port switches. These were all recently replaced with NDS.

See the complete story on Enterprise IT Planet.