Choosing a Data Protection Solution in a Down Economy

I hate to turn on the TV these days because it is full of bad news. There always seems to be some pundit talking about troubles in the housing market, credit markets, automotive industry, consumer confidence and so many other areas. It does not take a rocket scientist to recognize that the economy is in tough shape right now. As a reader of this blog, you are likely feeling some of the pain in your budget. This obviously brings up an important question: how do I justify IT purchases in these environments.

In situations like these, IT departments must go back to the basics. Purchases must be all about ROI. You must look beyond just acquisition cost and consider how a given solution can save your organization money both upon acquisition and into the future.

The interesting thing about ROI is that there are many components that should be considered. Look at both capital expenditures and operational expenditures over time. This reveals an interesting irony. Tape may have a low acquisition cost, but a much higher on an operating cost. Tape will also cost you in annual capex when need to scale it. You may save money when purchasing it and yet find it very expensive to operate over the long run.

When thinking about costs, some of the key metrics you should consider include:

Cost of system management
Consider the inherent complexity and manual labor required to manage a given system. If one system meets your needs today, what will your environment look like in one, two or five years and what will be the resulting impact on your operational costs? There is an added cost for managing and implementing multiple systems versus a single system; you need to decide on the amount. A single highly scalable solution can help with this cost.

Cost of data center space
The high cost of data center space may make adding systems cost prohibitive. You need to get the best utilization out of existing space and must consider system footprint. Clearly deduplication can help here and the more you can reduce your capacity requirements, the better off you are. Server virtualization can also help since you can have multiple virtual servers in the footprint of one physical server.

Power and cooling cost
As the prices of natural resources have increased so has the price of electricity. You need to find ways to leverage your existing electrical and cooling infrastructure more efficiently. Deduplication can help with this since you can use it to reduce your system footprints. Server virtualization can also help by reducing the number of servers and related power and cooling requirements.

Maintenance cost
Many vendors include this in the purchase price. However, at some point, you will need to renew maintenance. Beware of vendors that charge dramatically higher rates for maintenance renewals and uses this as leverage to sell a new system. In other cases, technology becomes so obsolete that it is unsupportable. In these cases, you need to think about a solution that provides backward compatibility so as new product features and components come out, they can be integrated into the existing system without a forklift upgrade. (e.g. transparently move from 2 Gb to 4 Gb FC, non-dupe to dedupe enabled or from one drive size to another..)

All of these metrics must be considered when building an ROI on the solution. Compelling ROI data will allow you to build a case for upgrading your infrastructure that is financially justified. Prior to today’s difficult times, ROI justification was important, but since the economic difficulties, it has become vital.

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