Storage management directly affects service management
In a difficult business climate, one of the best ways to make forward progress is to improve service management. Any investment you make that brings services in closer alignment with customer needs and interests, the better the business outcome you will likely receive.
Today, service management is typically addressed in the context of IT. As IT has become the fundamental service delivery platform for most organizations, the importance of IT service levels has ascended in proportion. Every logical resource that drives IT services demands effective, and efficient, management.
Storage—a critical IT resource by any definition—is a great practical example of this idea. The better IT manages storage, the higher will be the service levels of all the services that depend on storage (which is to say, all of them). And those higher service levels, in turn, will translate into higher satisfaction levels from employees and customers—the final, and arguably the most honest, metric of service management quality.
While many think of this situation in the context of enterprise-class organizations with vast data centers driven by thousands of servers, it's just as true for mid-market, growing organizations. They, too, have IT infrastructures likely to benefit from enhanced service management, and they, too, can pursue that, in part, by improving the way they manage storage.
Consider the common situation at mid-sized data centers. Storage may be delivered via a SAN, but it's not always fully virtualized, and it's often not allocated in dynamic tiers based on business needs and cost-effectiveness. Higher-performing storage options, such as SSD (solid-state drives), are underutilized in proportion to their capabilities. And overall labor costs are higher than they should be, while productivity is lower. All of these factors conspire to bring down overall service levels and impede service management goals.
Integrated, virtualized storage supported by Tivoli service management
“The Storwize V7000 supports thin provisioning, allowing organizations to buy only the storage they need, when they need it. It also generates better business value from that storage via many compelling features such as mirroring/data replication, dynamic migration, comprehensive virtualization, and storage tiers that can make the best possible use of high-performance SSD drives.”
Enter the IBM Storwize V7000. This disk system is specifically intended to help mid-market businesses, growing organizations get superior utilization, ROI, and service levels from data center storage via an enterprise-class combination of features and functions without an enterprise-class price tag.
The Storwize V7000 supports thin provisioning, allowing organizations to buy only the storage they need, when they need it. It also generates better business value from that storage via many compelling features such as mirroring/data replication, dynamic migration, comprehensive virtualization, and storage tiers that can make the best possible use of high-performance SSD drives.
Even better, the Storwize V7000 seamlessly integrates with several different members of the IBM Tivoli service management portfolio. This means its value proposition goes beyond just being a superior disk system; it also gives IT a centralized, single point of management control over all of the storage the solution supports. The Storwize V7000, in short, is a great way to pursue IBM's vision of integrated service management through improved IT visibility, control, and automation.
A typical mid-market data center faces many storage challenges
To visualize how the Storwize V7000 can help mid-market organizations achieve these goals, let's consider how it might apply in a specific case. From IBM's extensive consulting experience, the following picture emerges as a typical portrait of how storage is managed in such data centers at the present time.
To begin with, there might be 70 applications overall using storage in two very different ways. Perhaps 10 of those applications would be using the embedded storage installed on their systems; the other 60 would be using shared storage, using one or more solutions such as IBM's DS4700. Total storage, including both traditional disk and SSD, might come to 54 terabytes.
One thing to notice in this scenario is how underutilized all of that storage usually really is. For the embedded storage, perhaps two terabytes would be active; for the shared storage, another 14 terabytes. This implies overall utilization of only about 30%.
Additionally, the SSD storage—notable for substantially higher performance and well suited to the most demanding applications—would typically be managed via ad hoc PCI cards assigned in an unpredictable fashion to various systems throughout the data center. Such an approach, which tethers SSD to particular systems, complicates management and makes it harder to make changes to suit future goals or strategies.
Backup and disaster recovery strategies would involve tape copies manually migrated physically from one site to another on a rotational basis. This suffices for basic risk mitigation, but such an arrangement is far from ideal—among other issues, leading to slow recovery times in the event of a real disaster, and taking a tremendous business toll for every minute core services remain down because they lack the data they need.
How complex is such an arrangement to manage? One can get some idea from the fact that numerous points of administration are required to address it all. Switching from one management tool to another, depending on context, leads to a slower response when problems come up, a slower implementation of new business strategies, and, in both cases, diminished overall service management.
Leverage the Storwize V7000 to drive up the business value of every service it supports
Now let's draw a contrast by considering that same data center when empowered by the Storwize V7000. Those same 70 applications can now draw on a single storage source, which, because it is optimized for superior business value, supports all their requirements in a far more efficient and cost-efficient manner.
Instead of multiple points of administration, there is only one. Any problem involving storage that occurs can be addressed much more swiftly—in many cases, before users or customers even have a chance to notice the problem exists.
SSD technology can automatically, via a capability known as Easy Tier, be mapped to the services that will benefit the most from it, enhancing their performance even more.
With the addition of IBM FastBack for Storwize V7000, site backups no longer require any sort of manual migration. Instead, they can be replicated over IP for dramatically superior efficiency and administrative convenience. This also works in reverse; in the event of a disaster at the primary data center, data can be restored from the alternate site with remarkable speed, bringing services back online faster and mitigating the business impact of the disaster overall.
Also notable is the fact that less storage is actually needed because less storage is wasted. Instead of the old model of 30% utilization of 54 terabytes, the data center is now achieving 60% utilization of perhaps 27 terabytes. Yet the same 70 applications are running, and indeed, are running faster and more reliably than before.
Utilization, in other words, has doubled. And the larger the data center is, in terms of primary storage, the stronger this argument becomes.
Drive down labor costs through integrating with the IBM Tivoli service management suite
Multiplying the business case for the Storwize V7000 is the fact that it delivers similar reductions and efficiency not just for storage per se, but also the labor required to manage that storage.
Recall that the points of administration required fell from numerous to one, and that all storage supported by the Storwize V7000 became virtualized instead of tied to specific hardware. These optimizations alone can lead to tremendous reductions in labor (and therefore labor costs). This strong argument only becomes stronger when you consider the way the Storwize V7000 can be managed by key IBM Tivoli management solutions to generate even more value through superior visibility, control, and automation.
Consider the following specific cases:
Imagine the significant overall improvement that has been achieved via the Tivoli storage management offerings when paired with the Storwize solution!