How to Reduce Storage Spend Permanently

July 25th, 2021 9:01pm

How to Reduce Storage Spend Permanently

When explaining how to reduce storage spend permanently, most vendors will bring out the magical total cost of ownership (TCO) phrase. Unfortunately, most vendors use the three-letter acronym to justify a higher upfront price in hopes that, in theory, with time, the solution will save your organization money. The problem is many vendors’ upfront price is so high, that there is no way to recoup the upfront investment. 

Reducing your storage spend permanently requires three critical steps:

•     Reduce Upfront Costs

•     Consolidate Step-By-Step

•     Seamless Upgrades and Zero Migrations

Join MK7 and StorONE for our live Learn then Lunch Webinar, “Reducing Your Storage Spend Permanently,”  to learn more about each step

Reduce Upfront Costs

The first step in creating a long-term reduction in storage spend is delivering a low upfront cost. Lowering upfront costs does not mean lowering the quality of the solution, nor does it mean getting involved in knock-down-drag-out negotiations. It requires a storage solution that can meet your performance, capacity, and data protection needs using the absolute minimum amount of hardware. Most storage solutions require expensive storage processors, which inflate the initial cost of the solution.

They also start to run into performance problems as capacity utilization reaches 55% or more. Lastly, they often require additional data protection software added to them or a further investment in your data protection infrastructure to provide adequate protection.

What to Look For

Reducing upfront costs without sacrificing performance or data integrity requires finding a solution that can extract the maximum performance and capacity from low-end to mid-range hardware. The per drive performance capability of modern flash drives is more than 500K IOPS per drive. That means that most organizations can meet their performance expectations with less than twelve drives, but most vendors require 24 or 36 drives to get anywhere close to your performance requirements. Given that the cost per flash drive is, on average, about $4,500 per drive, that’s over $100,000 in additional storage spend because of performance inefficiencies.

The typical hard disk drive can deliver 18TB of per drive capacity, but most storage solutions can only use about 10TB of that 18TB drive before suffering performance degradation. In our customer base, requirements of 500TB to 1PB+ of capacity are commonplace. The low utilization of available capacity means that most customers give up 300TB to 400TB of capacity on each petabyte purchase.

Consolidate Step-by-Step

One of the best ways to reduce the long-term cost of storage infrastructure is to consolidate storage. Centralizing most or all storage use cases into a single storage solution lowers operational costs and reduces storage spend by centralizing storage resource allocation. The problem is the more you consolidate storage onto a single vendor's solutions, the more locked into that vendor’s hardware you become, making it difficult to impossible to get additional price breaks in the future.

Another challenge is these consolidated solutions can’t typically consolidate all use cases. There is almost always a handful of use cases the system can’t support. Finally, most of these solutions are not price competitive on a per-use case basis. They need the “fuzzy math” of TCO to justify the solution. For the TCO to make sense, they must convince you to consolidate five or more workloads upfront.

What to Look For

Consolidation is a critical method for reducing storage spend. Still, you must make sure the solution you select provides the flexibility to mix and match hardware from various solutions. You must make sure the platform can truly consolidate all your workloads. Mixing and matching hardware requires a storage solution that is primarily software-driven and can leverage various hardware components. A “software-first” storage solution enables you to pick the proper storage hardware for your use case.

You also need to make sure that the solution can genuinely consolidate all your storage workloads into a single storage platform. Achieving complete storage consolidation requires a solution that can effectively isolate workloads so that each workload is given the performance and capacity it requires without interfering with the other workload requirements. It also requires a solution that can support various protocols like fibre channel, iSCSI, NVME-oF, NFS, SMB, and even S3.

The most important part of a consolidation strategy is to find a solution that does not require you to consolidate everything from day one. Look for a solution that is competitive on a per-use case basis. Ideally, the solution should be competitive as a backup storage solution. Starting with backup enables you to learn the system and have it prove itself on less critical data.

Seamless Upgrades and Zero Migration

A storage solution that will consolidate all your storage workloads, especially one that will perform this consolidation step-by-step, will likely be installed for years, maybe even decades. That means as you add new or legacy workloads to the solution, it will need more performance and capacity. The problem is most storage solutions can’t easily add different technology to their system. They must support the same media type and often can't even support higher density media than initially came with the system. If a new network protocol like NVMe-oF appears or new PCIe motherboards like PCIe Gen-4 come to market, these systems often can’t support them, and you face a complete storage refresh.

What to Look For

If you are looking to permanently lower upfront costs, you need to avoid storage migrations and refreshes. The storage solution should support a mixture of storage media and protocols. New higher density media should intermix with older media, and the system should automatically balance the capabilities of each. It should support new protocols by adding a network interface card, not by forklift upgrading to an entirely new storage system.


The advice we’ve given you in the “What to Look For” sections may seem like an impossibility,  but you can do it! For example, MK7 provides solutions powered by StorONE and their Enterprise Storage Platform, which can deliver a complete consolidation solution that meets all the requirements in the “What to Look For” sections.  Our live Learn then Lunch Webinar, “Reducing Your Storage Spend Permanently,” will feature experts from MK7 and StorONE explaining how you can lower your storage spend permanently. I hope to see you there!

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