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Storage management: efficiently using and saving energy

Storage vendor 3Par maintains that in one instance, it found a large customer's existing OLTP systems to be only 8% utilized--the other 92% was just adding entropy to the universe. While this is an extreme example, it illustrates the point. Good storage management can save a lot of money, space, and power.

For OLTP that means thin provisioning, a technique that allocates disk blocks to a given application only when the blocks are actually written rather than at initial provisioning. By employing thin provisioning along with good storage management software, the onus for guessing exactly how much storage will be needed is taken off the database administrator and instead can be tracked by the storage management system itself. A year ago, only a few vendors were offering thin provisioning on OLTP systems; now it's much more pervasive and should be strongly considered to right-size OLTP storage.

For general-purpose file storage, the problem is much different. Thin provisioning is useful here, too, but more commonly the problem comes down to creating a global view of all data stored across disparate systems. After all, just how many copies of the latest Paris Hilton video does an enterprise need (or copies of the annual report, or the video of the CEO's address to shareholders, and so on)? Global storage resource management (SRM) systems are the best bet for understanding and managing the complex storage needs of an enterprise.

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