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50% storage utilization: are data centers half empty or half full?

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Symantec’s 2008 State of the Data center survey found that data centers are utilizing 50% of their storage.  What a waste! Some see this as clarion call for efficiency.

Surely companies are working to improve this, given how much they spend on storage, flat or declining budgets and continuing growth in data volumes.  

Surely today’s latest technology like virtualization and deduplication are filling this gap, with higher utilization just around the corner.

Sadly, not yet. The trend is towards less efficiency.  Storage utilization decreased from 2007, where Symantec’s survey reported a level of 60%.   

How can that be? 

Management is still more expensive than storage   

Storing, using and protecting data outweigh pruning and organizing it.  It’s a paradox: the more data grows, the less time there is to organize it, which means more storage is needed, which is harder to manage.

In a way, improved data management exacerbates the problem: as data becomes more manageable and efficient, new applications become possible that generate even more data, throwing a wrench in the works. 

The best data centers solve the utilization problem

As hard as it is to fathom, utilization will remain a second-tier issue.  The best-run data centers - those that can get to their second-tier issues - will be able to solve it.   The rest will be happy to be able to store, use and protect all of their data.

8 Comments

  • [...] doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Every year or so, a new study is performed showing that half of storage capacity in the data center is unused. And every time there is a predictable (and poorly thought through) “networked storage is a [...]

  • 50% is halfway there! The question is: are customers overbuying storage based on poorly forecasting data growth, or is this more a result of the storage devices themselves being performance limited, and therefore, being unable to handle the growing capacity?

  • I know this is highly technical stuff, but here’s an interesting viewpoint: if a farmer’s grain bins are half empty, it’s a problem. Data is what we mine and farm in this economy. So is it a question of efficiency, or productivity?

  • Anuj Chaturvedi Says:

    Hi Guys,

    I live in India and a friend of mine lives in Australia, he suggested me to start a Data Center in either India or Australia.

    Please want to educate my self who the data center functions.

  • Storage Effect Says:

    What if that farmer has to put in 10 extra hours a week to keep his grain bins full? It might be more productive for him to have to bins half full. I think this is the reality in data centers.=

  • Storage Effect Says:

    I think it’s complicated by the fact that sometimes data needs don’t grow or even decline. But it’s hard to predict.

  • [...] doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Every year or so, a new study is performed showing that half of storage capacity in the data center is unused. And every time there is a predictable (and poorly thought through) “networked storage is a [...]

  • [...] It should not have taken this crisis to shine a light on this topic; we are reminded at regular intervals that enterprise storage utilisation generally sits at around 50 per cent. [...]

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