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How do I track and monitor the hidden benefits of efficiency?

ROI models often paint an amazing picture of the savings I can achieve with various efficiency technologies that are now available, but how do I actually realise these in my environment? I have many clients that struggle to monitor some of the more hidden costs of efficiency.

  • Power, Cooling, Lighting. Power can be tracked if I have advanced UPS and power feeds, but a lot of people don't. Cooling is difficult to track as it's usually one cooling unit for an entire data centre, how do I know how efficient it really is if the DC is always at 18 degrees C? Lighting is a tricky one also. A large data centre needs to be lit, do I turn the lights off each time I leave it? Are the lights turned on for the entire data centre if I just access the rack next to the door? It's not as simple as taking the entire data centre costs and dividing it by square footage (or metres) as this gives me an average, and my blade centre in the corner puts out more heat that my tape library in the middle

  • Admin costs. This sounds like an excuse to make my IT team more light? That worries a lot of IT workers. How can I validate the admin savings that specific optimisations will provide? I really need to analyse the processes behind the IT infrastructure and optimise and train my IT team. The IT team will actually benefit from this as they'll gain new skills, new experience and more importantly, more time to do things efficiently. But how do I prove that to the CIO/CTO/CFO who is reading in "Computer Weekly" all the cost savings he is going to make in admin staff by implementing an "Internal Cloud"? How on earth do you track job satisfaction?! If I am lightening the load on the IT team, giving them training and making their lives easier, how can I track and trend how content they are with their job? Happy workers are optimised and efficient

  • Time to market. Do you monitor this today? You have a project idea, the project manager discusses with the IT team and they come back with a figure. After I have optimised my internal IT infrastructure, have I re-educated my IT team and project managers to understand what the new infrastructure can deliver and how the time to market can now be accelerated?

Any ideas on how to track the hidden costs of efficiency? I think these are where the really big wins are for any business out there, but I think they are also the most difficult to track and trend.

Re: How do I track and monitor the hidden benefits of efficiency?

Great questions. I work on the NetApp Realize tool which helps customers estimate how much money they would save by increasing storage efficiency through more efficient hardware and by using technologies like dedupe, thin provisioning, RAID-DP, FlexClone, etc. Here's how you can measure these efficiencies.

  • Power, cooling: You can get a good estimate of power consumption if you know what kinds of disk drives you have, the PUE (power usage efficiency) of your datacenter, and how many raw TB of disk you've got. This is how NetApp Realize estimates it. If you switch to more efficient hardware (bigger disks, denser shelves), you use less power/TB. If you need fewer TB because you used dedupe or FlexClone, you use less power.

  • Admin costs: If you know you need fewer FTEs and you know what it costs to employee a FTE for a year, you can easily estimate the savings. BUT, you are right that most companies who achieve storage management efficiency gains are not planning to make the extra employees redundant. (And if they are, they're not going to tell the admins in advance.)  The NetApp Realize tool is good at estimating how much labor the customer can save, but some customers don't want to include that savings, telling us, "No matter how efficient your storage is, we're not going to fire an admin." I have not seen anyone convert their IT workers' happiness into a money savings.  But you can measure TB/FTE and employee turnover rate and convert both of those into cost savings for the CIO/CFO.

  • Time to Market: We do have some customers measuring how Efficient IT improves time-to-market. Check our Suncorp Built-on-NetApp story. I think most of our customers are happy to just measure IT efficiency in terms of how quickly they can deploy new storage, new servers (virtualized or physical), and new applications. But the benefits of Efficient IT on the rest of the business can be very real, and we would love to see more customers measure it.

Other thoughts on measuring efficiency....

  • See the NetApp Efficient IT site here:  http://www.netapp.com/us/company/leadership/efficient-it/
  • For a quick and easy estimate of Storage Efficiency savings, try the Efficient IT Calculator.
  • To find out how many NetApp TB your customers have deployed, you can use MyAutoSupport (login required). Your customers can use it too.
  • To discover both NetApp and non-NetApp storage kit, use management tools like NetApp SANscreen or Akorri BalancePoint.
  • If you want a more accurate power consumption management without advanced UPSes, you could use a cabinet with a metering PDU. Or get a clamp-on ammeter.
  • We've seen a lot of customers enjoy (or impose) labor efficiency savings by keeping the number of storage FTEs flat while adding more storage. If they can grow capacity 30% annually for 3 years without adding headcount, then either the storage is getting easier to manage or the employees are getting better at managing it (or the admins were previously spending too much time playing Angry Birds).
  • Other customers report that after switching to NetApp, they have the same number of storage admins, but the admins spend far less time provisioning storage and far more time planning for application growth and virtualization.
  • If you want to use NetApp Realize to help your customers estimate storage efficiency savings, the tool is available to all authorized (authorised in the UK) NetApp partners.