Storage Consolidation Hurdles for India

By: Jose Allan Tan

Top Business Concerns

A consistent challenge within the IT organization in 2007 is the need to keep cost down. Management is not asking IT not to spend money - but to spend it like nothing more is coming. In other words, spend where it will bring the most benefit in the shortest possible time.

So should you wonder then that a recent survey of IT practitioners across India showed exactly this market condition?

Referring to chart 1, 64 percent of companies surveyed say they are expanding to new markets and new geographies. Second in the list of business concerns is competition. About 57.1 percent say that competition is a constant worry for them, both in the current markets where they are and in the new markets they are eyeing to penetrate or already entering.

In the process of expanding, engaging new potential customers, and staving off competition, companies must keep close watch over how they spend their limited resources. Prudent spending in the face of competition and the need to keep growing revenue to demonstrate shareholder value is pushing 56.7 percent to constantly monitor cost.

Closely trailing these top 3 concerns is the imperative to raise productivity with 53.9 percent continually looking for ways to raise productivity.

Top IT Challenges in 2007-2008

The issues facing IT managers reflect the business concerns of their companies. Because any failure on the part of IT is a showstopper, IT managers put security (52 percent) as their number one priority (see chart 2).

The second (48.3 percent) and fourth (40.4 percent) challenges are related. The rapid proliferation of new and emerging technologies coupled with the imperative to keep costs down means that IT must be sure about what where IT investments are going. The old adage "no one gets fired for buying IBM" is no longer valid. The IT management chain (top to bottom) share the responsibility of ensuring that the right choice is made each time.

The perennial shortage of qualified staff ranks as the third IT challenge among companies in India with 45.2 percent claiming that keeping qualified staff is just as difficult as finding them.

Current IT Initiatives in Place

In a bizarre twist of fate, the top three IT initiatives currently in place are all about availability. Close to 75 percent of respondents say they have a backup/restore strategy in place. Security comes a close 72.7 percent. Because business continuity often involves other departments or business units, the third most deploy IT initiative (business continuity and disaster recovery) is a distant 47.4 percent.

Wireless connectivity bested network storage by 0.2 percent as the fourth most commonly deployed IT initiative at 44.8 percent.

Business benefits of Storage Consolidation

How easy is it to explain to a non-technical person the merits of migrating from a proprietary platform to one that supports Open standards? In the same token explaining the complexity of consolidating storage and servers to the uninitiated (and possibly uninterested) presents a challenge in itself.

That said, 57.6 percent of IT respondents say that simplifying the management of the data center is the number one benefit that can be derived from a storage consolidation exercise.

This is followed by 53.4 percent seeing an improvement in service levels to users as data becomes centralized. This signals IT's understanding that customer satisfaction is an important part of their mandate.

One of the biggest selling points of storage consolidation (and the whole premise behind the success of network attached storage and storage area network) is the idea of storage underutilization and server proliferation. In the days when the only option is direct attached storage, companies would buy additional servers because the server has reached its storage limits.

Storage consolidation allows for companies to buy additional storage without increasing the number of servers on the data center. Survey respondents put better storage utilization as the third most important benefit of consolidation with 52.5 percent affirming this.

The fourth most important benefit (42.2 percent) is a strong selling point to both technology and business managers - the idea of standardizing on specific technologies and processes. By standardizing on a few instead of many, companies are able to simplify the management of their infrastructure.

Why Say NO to Consolidation?

You start to wonder with all the benefits of storage consolidation, why would companies choose to ignore this path? Over 70 percent of respondents listed "limited understanding of the technology and its benefits" as the single biggest hindrance to agreeing to consolidate their storage infrastructure.

This correlates to lack of in-house expertise as the second most cited reason (63.8 percent) for not taking the consolidation path.

Any storage consolidation project will involve costs, from redesigning the data center, to migrating content hosted on siloes of compute servers onto storage-only platforms. With concerns over keeping cost down, it is no surprise that "perceived high project cost" is third on the list at 59.7 percent.

Lack of standards (49.2 percent) and Lack of management support (42 percent) round out the objections to undertaking a storage consolidation exercise.

Profile of Respondents

The respondents to the survey represent mid to senior IT managers working for large enterprises in the India. Enterprise Innovation received 631 responses majority. While only 24.9 percent point to their role as being the final decision maker with regards to storage strategies and acquisitions, 32.8 percent influence the choices made by their company. A further 25.8 percent evaluate the technologies from which decisions are made. As expected only 16.5 percent point to external forces as guiding any storage acquisition indicating the level of trust management places on local talent.

Predicting what you need in the future is always a challenge. This is more acute when it comes to storage. While IT has no problem projecting the server computing requirements based on ongoing and future IT projects, storage requirements are often dictated by how successful campaigns are as well as target audience.

When a global bank launched its first online IPO product in Hong Kong, it quickly realized that it underestimated its storage requirements forcing the bank to review future storage purchase.

This reflects the changing market dynamics. In the survey close to 30 percent of respondents have no idea as to when their next storage purchase will be. But 58.6 percent believe that they have to purchase new storage within a 12-month window.

Technology
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Technology
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles