Can You Rely on Cloud Storage to Control IT Spending?

Enterprise IT organizations wage a constant battle against application and infrastructure sprawl in an attempt to contain costs. According to many sources, IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) costs represent 60%-70% of a typical enterprise IT budget – often referred to as “keeping the lights on”.


Blog - UNC IT Operations.jpgWhy do I&O costs consume so much of the IT budget? It takes a lot of resources and processes to support all the functional areas of an enterprise organization. Consider a typical enterprise IT organization, such as the University of North Carolina, where I&O costs include the staffing and upkeep of 3 data centers, a network operations center, and an identity management system. IT operations at UNC support a myriad of enterprise applications, middleware, as well as all enterprise database administration.


The good news is that modernizing the data storage infrastructure can result in direct and indirect I&O savings for enterprise IT organizations. A recent Gartner report offers this advice:


“Do everything you can to contain storage costs. For most enterprises, storage TCO will not decrease within three years, because storage growth is outpacing the decline in storage TCO on a per-TByte basis. Use cloud storage services to the fullest extent feasible.”


However, I’d take this statement further and note that there are many ways to gain storage cost efficiencies, and not all of them require the use of cloud storage. Here are four ways you can modernize storage resources throughout the enterprise application lifecycle and achieve significant savings, sometimes with help from the cloud:


Modernize Application Development


The conventional approach to application dev/test (i.e. physical labs) requires significant time and expense to build and maintain, which is often at odds with the enterprise’s needs for speed and agility. As an alternative, consider turning to public cloud services for application dev/test when faced with tight schedules and I&O budget roadblocks.


NetApp’s alliance with Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows applications to be quickly configured and tested within a public cloud environment. Because of the unique way that NetApp utilizes AWS to host a unified storage platform, once applications are ready for production deployment, they can be transparently migrated to physical storage systems owned by IT.


Replatform Active Applications


Many enterprise applications are licensed according to the type and number of CPU’s they utilize.   Database vendors, for instance, tend to use a pricing model that involves CPU type and number of cores. Replatforming to newer, less expensive servers, such as moving from RISC to x86 architectures, can result in substantial licensing cost savings.


Servers, however, don’t work alone, they are connected to storage, and often poor storage performance is the reason that servers needed to be loaded-up with beefy CPUs, extra DRAM, and scaled horizontally in the first place. Often, the biggest ROI benefit in moving to modern flash storage systems, such as NetApp’s EF560 and the all-flash FAS, is the server consolidation savings, an often overlooked item in the justification process.


Retire Legacy Storage Systems


Older storage systems are generally slower and more costly to maintain than their newer counterparts. Using techniques such as NetApp foreign LUN import, the data on these systems can be migrated to newer, faster and higher capacity storage systems. If the application data is really old, consider archiving to a public cloud provider with a product such as the NetApp SteelStore Cloud Integrated Storage Appliance


Sunset Inactive Applications


Obsolete or infrequently accessed applications take up space on servers and storage, space that might be better used for other applications. Most enterprise applications never really die, but they can be moved offsite to a peaceful resting place by using NetApp Cloud ONTAP.


On-premise applications hosted on NetApp storage systems can be migrated nondisruptively to the cloud using a data fabric that seamlessly connects data centers and public clouds into a cohesive, integrated whole.


Expand Your Options When Addressing an Old Problem


From an IT Infrastructure and Operations perspective, data storage continues to consume an increasing percentage of the overall cost of developing and deploying enterprise applications. Although the public cloud offers new ways to reduce IT I&O costs, consider cloud services within the context of the entire application lifecycle as part of a broader approach for modernizing your storage infrastructure.


More Information


In the video below, at the 9 minute mark, Stuart Devenish discusses Suncorp’s hybrid approach in using NetApp with AWS while satisfying strict IT requirements.