Storage Informer
Storage Informer

Serendipity & Clouds

by on Jun.22, 2009, under Storage

Serendipity & Clouds

EMC logo Serendipity & Clouds

In the right context, using less energy means accomplishing the mission with less gear on the machine room floor. That means less equipment was packaged, transported or manufactured. That in turn means we have cut fewer trees and extracted less oil and copper from the ground.

Every time I have the energy & efficient IT conversation with customers I learn something new.  In the process I try to connect the new information with what will help customers accomplish their objectives and to better understand what drives their decisions.

That’s where serendipity – making fortunate discoveries by accident – comes into play. World arrows

For some time, my focus has been IT energy use in data centers and how to help consume less of it.  As I learned more, it became clear that energy difficulties are mostly symptoms of inefficient IT – a very unfortunate and costly side effect. 

Lately I’m seeing a line-up that connects several important customer concerns:  the economy, sustainable business, sustainable natural environments, the expanding digital universe, and next generation IT/business imperatives. 

They may not all intersect for every customer, but the themes do and more frequently there are more ah-ha moments that connect them to a course of action.


Customers are realizing they have a rare opportunity for multiple related difficulties to be addressed effectively and simultaneously with one core strategy that incorporates mission critical computing, seamless virtualization and Private Cloud

All of the elements, including timing, are falling into place.

I think of pool balls – five of them lined up perfectly in front of the pool table pocket.  It isn’t an easy shot but it’s possible.  With a bit of skill and experienced coaching it’s a shot with great promise.

Start with the economy.  Whatever can be done to consume less energy, capital, space etc., will help save on expenses and improve business.  Here you have multiple opportunities to advance the cause -through consolidation, de-duplication, Flash and SATA disk, virtualization and so on.  Yes there are capital expenses, but smart strategy paybacks in direct savings and cost avoidance are rapid and well worth the investment.

There are solid IT efficiency paybacks too.

It’s not all new.  For example, EMC moved to a tiered storage strategy and over about four and a half years capacity grew from under 1 petabyte to nearly 5.5 petabytes.  At the same time, energy for storage decreased 45%. There were immediate savings in the storage consolidation and energy reduction as well as long term operating economies that would never have been possible without that early change in practices.

During the same period, EMC used virtualization to reduce its server pool by over 1000 machines. And there’s opportunity for much more.

Now there are even more reasons to look at this and more positive impacts that can result.

Go beyond the narrow IT focus, because we also want to sustain our business and natural environments.  After all, if the natural environment fails it will certainly not be good for business. 

So, when I talk to customers about IT efficiency, I use energy as a placeholder for ways that the business can increase operational efficiency, spend less for IT and help the environment suffer less. 

In the right context, using less energy means accomplishing the mission with less gear on the machine room floor.  That means less equipment  was packaged, transported or manufactured.  That in turn means we have cut fewer trees and extracted less oil and copper from the ground.  Cloud computing can enable and accelerate these benefits.

All of this makes the business more efficient economically and operationally.  At the same time, the environmental impacts are reduced and chances for both business and environmental sustainability are improved.

Another concern, the expanding data universe, deserves its own discussion.  Then there are the collection of factors pushing next generation IT and business imperatives.  Let’s just agree that the forces are rapid and strong.  We need to contend with new technologies, new IT demands and new business pressures. 

Challenges like these create competitive opportunity and some real dangers too. That’s why the virtualization and Cloud concepts make so much sense.  (Read more about Private Cloud on Chuck’s Blog.)

They incorporate the flexibility factor. 

One of the big drawbacks of more traditional IT structures is that a good deal of physical infrastructure is created for “just in case” scenarios. As a result, overall utilization suffers. In virtualized and cloud environments, the utilization rates can be much greater and much less can be installed for “just in case” needs.

This is the true for private or public cloud environments.  And the resulting flexibility of just-in-time IT services means that business objectives are still met, probably at higher performance and lower cost.


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