Consolidating Data Storage

By Kyle Christopher

I was recently in the market for a new Mac. Therefore, working for a data storage company, I naturally asked my colleague, Dan, for his recommendations as far as external storage. Dan is our resident Datacenter Architect and storage guru. I, like many IT departments, needed to consolidate tons of files into one place that was easily accessible to our team.

I have traditionally searched three things when purchasing data storage, for better or worse 1) A lot of space, 2) A lot of space for cheap and 3) A small footprint.

When Dan gave me his recommendations for external drives, I chuckled. He sent me a list of seemingly expensive hard drives that couldn't get close to the deal I found: A 2 TB external drive for $80! And the ones Dan sent me were about the size of cinderblocks. He obviously hadn't done the research I had, right? Wrong. I made the mistake that most people make when considering consolidating their data storage. I failed to consider all the other factors that consolidation entails; such as power consumption, hard drive speed, and set up time.

Unfortunately, many companies make the exact same mistake I made, but on a much larger and more consequential scale. In this case, it's not as easy as just re-packing the hardware and shipping it back to the sender. You now have massive storage arrays that were shipped halfway across the country and an entirely re-configured system.

Data Storage Consolidation

The key to proper consolidation is something called strategy. And while it seems like the major players in data storage world are just willing to sell you the biggest and best, a lot of times you end up with a data storage solution that might be better suited for my new Macbook. I'll send you my shipping address shortly.

Consolidation, it turns out, is more than about small and cheap.

Here are a few key points to consider within consolidation:

1) Power Consumption

You're not really saving money if you find cheap storage arrays that double or triple your monthly power bills. With proper research comes well-informed decisions that will eventually be reflected in your bottom line. Power consumption is a major factor to consider.

2) HVAC Costs

Just like power consumption, keeping your costs low when it comes to HVAC is reflected in your bottom line. When you have the proper infrastructure in place and have planned ahead of time, HVAC expenses can be kept at a minimum.

3) Less Floor Space

Perhaps you think of less floor space as a given when you consider consolidating, but you might be surprised. In an effort to save money, there are still lots of companies out there who think they are saving money by keeping very old hardware while shelling out thousands of dollars per month renting out entire buildings to keep their data. If you set the right strategy in place and do your research, you will probably find that upgrading that old hardware to newer, pre-owned storage solutions can actually save you not only in terms of the physical hardware, but also in terms of physical storage space. I recently heard about a small company that consolidated from 3 floors of storage down to 1 floor. Talk about a small footprint! Instead of needing to purchase new office space, the company just moved everybody into their former storage space. The newer products are being made with higher density, which allows for less floor space, and you can often find them at deeply discounted prices.

To summarize, this list is only the beginning. We could talk about Green Data Centers for maximum energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact. You can often obtain tax deductions, a more comfortable and healthy work environment, as well as enhanced relations with local communities.

One thing is clear: Data storage is ever-increasing. Meanwhile, it seems that your resources are ever-decreasing. The trick is to learn how to manage these increases properly. Consolidate by finding an expert in the business that will provide a solution, not just more of the same at what appears to be a cheap price. Make sure you have a strategy in place so you get the most value out of your current storage, while also finding the right new gear that will save you time, money as well as space.