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Curbing the capacity challenge

Curbing the capacity challenge 

Realizing this, APTARE has developed a product that can help companies solve these capacity issues, and ensure that their data is being properly stored. Designed to optimize capacities across heterogeneous storage environments, the StorageConsole Capacity Manager enables IT to make better use of available resources. This effectively delays the purchase of additional storage products, thus providing cost savings.

IT in Canada spoke to Walt Duflock, vice president of Marketing for APTARE on how businesses can benefit from better storage management practices, and the shift towards virtualized storage.

IT in Canada: What led to the development of the StorageConsole Platform?
It started out as a backup solution around backup reporting for NetBackup. We gradually figured out that storage was a related challenge with a (similar) set of opportunities. We built StorageConsole to answer the questions, “What do I have on my backup and storage environments, who is using it, and how can I get some of the detailed information around that?”

There are good device tools out there from the backup and storage vendors, but we go deeper than that, and we cast a wider net. The question we hear most often today, 10 years after we first started (creating) enterprise software and evolved from being a solutions company into a services company is “How do I keep track of what I’ve got?” There are so many storage and backup (providers) out there, and for different reasons, people lose track of projects and don’t clean up after themselves.

People just do not know how much storage and backup they’ve got out there, and we help to answer that question.

ITIC: Why is now the time for a product like this?
What has been driving our interest and activity over the past 12 months is as people in the IT world continue to evaluate and move to the cloud, in many cases, they’re doing that business units have demanded self-service portals. They’re looking for an easy way to get things provisioned so that they can (undertake) new projects and campaigns and get things launched.

There are massive numbers around cloud (operations). Some of the latest research I’ve seen showed that 90 per cent (of companies) are testing or running some sort of infrastructure-as-a-service, 84 per cent of them are going to offer self-service portals, and half of them already do.

Private cloud is winning, and a lot of enterprises are (adopting) the private cloud because they need control and a way to not just know what is happening, but stop what is happening. This is because the business side is now able to request IT resources faster than ever, and in a lot of our customer cases, they’ve seen a 30 to 50 per cent data growth rate and a storage growth rate as a multiplier of that.

It’s accelerating even faster because the self-service portal is doing exactly what it should do. It’s making it easier for them to request these things. All of the movement toward cloud and self-service portals puts the IT group under more pressure to try and control the resource growth.

One of the ways we help IT to solve that problem is by telling them exactly what they’ve got and who’s using it, right down to the application level. You can then charge that back to the groups that are using is so you make it a fair fight. In over 60 per cent of cases, when they’re moving to cloud, the business unit believes that IT should own the budget.

ITIC: How does the StorageConsole Platform help enterprises manage storage capacity?
It helps them manage it by looking at it across a couple of layers. The first one is that we are a heterogeneous data collection (company), so we will cover all of the major enterprise vendors, including EMC, NetApp and HP. We start with the device manager tools, and we examine what each customer has, how many terabytes (of space), what’s being asked for at the allocated layer, and most importantly, the utilization layer. We also go to the host or application level beyond that.

We help you manage your storage by finding what’s being used, what’s underused, what can be reused, and then identifying all of those as reclamation opportunities. We slow the storage growth by showing you what you already have but forgot about is available to be reused again.

ITIC: One recent trend in the industry is the shift towards virtualized storage. How does the platform assist with the transition to this format?
Virtualized storage is continuing to take over and dominate, and in fact, we (cover) both sides. We collect on the physical server locations and the tapes behind that, and on the virtualized environment so that you can tell where the application is, and where the data behind the application is.

In a virtualized environment, we will give the enterprise end user visibility into where the actual storage is, and where the actual VM or ESX environments are that these people are using. We basically interrogate either the device on the array side through a number of different methods, or in the case of VMWare, we interrogate VCenter. We (communicate) directly with the (device) that’s taking care of the ESX environment, and then we group those together and (give) you a comprehensive look at both sides of (the process).

ITIC: Will more businesses adopt virtualized storage in the future?
Absolutely. The economics around being able to provision almost makes it the grandfather of the self-service portal. The whole reason why virtualized storage took off is you can (create) a server in five minutes with an ESX instead of getting a real server, provisioning it, and doing all of that work across IT.

To me, with the virtualization trend, it’s not a question of if, but when and how fast. Some of the customers we have that are Fortune 100 (companies) are telling us that 80 per cent of their environment is virtualized, and they see that (figure) potentially growing to 90 per cent or more. In conjunction with that, they say their IT environment is going to be turned heavily into cloud within the next 10 years because of the better economics.

In the case of cloud, you’re turning what used to be Capex and seven-figure purchases of storage and backup equipment into Opex.

ITIC: What are the long-term goals for the StorageConsole Platform?
I would say long-term, our key initiative is to continue to ride this wave around cloud and continue to provide better solutions that integrate with things like the customer’s billing environment. We want to do a better job of helping them collect this data across their data centre and the cloud, put that in one place, and make it easier for people to (access) it.

We stay pretty laser-focused on having the right collection technologies, the right analytics behind that, and the right integration to really make a lot of this hands-off for the data centre team. If we’re doing our job right and building the right (products), we can collect the information for them across the data centre, get it analyzed, and pass it right to the billing environment.

The charge back becomes a hands-off proposition for them, and that is a huge win for the enterprise because you (eliminate) a lot of the human error, time delay and comma-delimited CSV file exports into a big set of tabs in the spreadsheet. We don’t mind spreadsheets, but we want to reduce the IT world’s dependence on them as a data centre management tool.

Our mission is to make the move to cloud even easier, and to understand why and when (enterprises) want to move certain things to certain types of cloud for the end user customers. If you can help an enterprise do that, you will have no shortage of opportunities.

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