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Buying Disks or Buying Storage Efficiencies

by Hu Yoshida on Jan 12, 2012

At the top of my list of trends to watch in 2012 was an increased focus on storage efficiency due to economic uncertainty and hard disk supply shortages—stemming from last year’s floods in Thailand. Yesterday IDC and Gartner both reported declines in 4th quarter PC shipment of 1.4 to 0.2%, compared to 2010 that was partly due to disk drive shortages. (My colleague David Merrill also covered this in a recent post.)

sfThe shortages have been felt the most in the consumer markets. At the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, a speaker cited the costs of a TB disk at the U.S. retailer Fry’s had gone from $79 to $190. Last November, the Storage Architect reported that a 2TB SATA drive that he had bought before for £65 was then listed at £150 on Amazon. Consumer markets run on very low margins, so the price can increase dramatically in response to any shortages.

In the enterprise space, the shortages have been real but the prices have been more stable. Some drive types have increased on the order of 5-15%. Consult your vendor to see what the current status is. Hopefully we will see the supply situation return to normal by the end of 2Q.

The Storage Architect supports my view of focusing on storage efficiency during this period by using thin provisioning and other efficiency methods in his post Drive Prices Increase – Who Will Suffer Most?

“If your vendor doesn’t offer it, then there are plenty out there who do.  As prices rise, it may be time to look again at implementing these features and fixing the processes that stop you using them today.”

Investing in storage virtualization through VSP adds another dimension to storage efficiency by extending these new capabilities to existing storage systems. If your current storage system does not provide thin provisioning, which can reclaim 40% or more of allocated but unused capacity, you don’t need to rip and replace it. Just by attaching it behind VSP, VSP can see your existing LUNs, and move them into a dynamic provisioning pool where the unused pages in the LUN can be reclaimed (Zero Page Reclaim) while your application is running.

So instead of buying additional disks during this period of shortages, invest in storage virtualization with VSP, which not only frees up the capacity you need today from your existing storage assets, but positions you for sustainable growth into the future. See what Claus Mikkelsen and David Merrill have to say about storage efficiencies.

For other posts on maximizing storage and capacity efficiencies, check these out: http://blogs.hds.com/capacity-efficiency.php

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Comments (2 )

John Reid on 09 Feb 2012 at 5:27 pm

If you think that the consumer market was hit badly by the pricing fluctuation of HDDs, then please think also of the niche data recovery market. Not only do we have to provide new hared disk drives to customers, but we also have to source identical donor parts to work on failed drives. As of November last year, HDDs which were normally consider lower capacity and would be on the spares market were suddenly desirable to manufactures of gadgets and other consumables in the Christmas run-up. These second hand donor hard disks are critical to the data recovery industry; it has been tough since the floods.

Hu Yoshida on 10 Feb 2012 at 9:13 am

John, thanks for pointing out this dimension of the problem. Data recovery is an important niche. Let’s hope for a quick recovery.

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