White Paper: The Federal Government Storage Efficiency Guide

This paper is a guide to help you understand how NetApp can enable maximum storage efficiency that will allow you to store all your data and accommodate rapid data growth without straining your people or your budgets.

Several dynamics impact the way organizations approach IT purchasing decisions today. Lingering global financial uncertainty in the post-recession era has forced data center managers to re-evaluate their budgets and eliminate unnecessary IT spending. At the same time, environmental concerns continue to plague facilities managers, who are concerned with the cost and availability of power, cooling, and space required by today’s growing IT infrastructure.

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While IT Managers wrestle with these concerns, data continues to grow. By some estimates, the creation of a typical business file initiates a chain of events that causes that file to be copied well over 1,000 times in its lifetime. If the file is an image of a popular entertainer or a video clip of a sports figure making a heroic play, perhaps tens of thousands of copies will be quickly distributed around the globe. How does this affect data storage in enterprise data centers? Have your users downloaded images and videos and completely forgotten about them? Do your users refuse to delete old files because "you never know if you might need them?" Are you--the system administrator--reluctant to purge data volumes because no one is quite sure who the owner of the data is, and what it's used for? If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, you are not alone. The majority of system administrators are grappling today with the constant creep of data throughout the data center. Unfortunately, there is no convenient trash can that you can throw your data rubbish into. 

There are many ways to attack the problem of data proliferation. First, you could demand that your accountants, engineers, managers, technicians, and executive staff immediately delete all their old unused data files. Hmmm-- that went over well, didn't it? Well, you could implement a search and classify mechanism in your data center to automatically move "stale" files to a disk archival system. This frees up room on your primary storage systems, but all that data still resides somewhere, and is still consuming large quantities of disk drive space. 

Finally, you could take advantage of existing storage efficiency techniques to manage the growth of your data, allowing you to retire legacy storage systems, postpone the purchase of new storage systems, and purchase smaller storage systems to begin with. You may not be able to control the behavior of your users or the pace of data growth, but you can control the efficiency of the storage systems that store this data.

 Executive Summary   3
 Storage Efficiency Overview  3
 Measuring Storage Efficiency   4
Efficiency (Or Inefficiency) Begins With The Creation Of Data   5
 Thin Provisioning  6
 Virtual Cloning  6
 Data Replication And Backup   7
 Deduplication  9
 Data Compression  10
 Efficient Use Of High Capacity Drives   10
 Improving The Efficiency Of Non-NetApp Storage  11
 Conclusion  12
User Case Study 1: FlexClone®  13
User Case Study 2: Deduplication  13
User Case Study 3: Utilization Improvement  14