Archived Post – On a slimmer me.

ARCHIVE – Originally posted 24 April 2009.

If I am completely honest with myself, I always knew this day would come. It is difficult to see the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man like image not only staring back at me in the mirror each day, but becoming ever bigger over the past five years. I suppose the tipping point was when Google phoned Mrs. PL to enquire as to when they could pop round to take my latitude and longitude for Google Earth. That’s right, campers …I’ve decided that I need to step up my diet and lose four and a half stone.

So what is going to be different this time? Well, I went round to see the doctor who helpfully also told me that I need to lose weight but, and here’s the interesting part, instead of sitting and having a qualitative conversation about losing weight so that I’m healthier and around to enjoy PL Junior as he grows older …we had a quantitative conversation. Whilst there are all kinds of different diets and related diet medication out there, seems that people who count calories actually lose 50% more weight over the course of their diet …and also tend to keep it off for good. Why? There’s the obvious answer that they are consuming fewer calories, but scientists have discovered that humans, on average, need to do something at least eighteen times for it to become a permanent habit. Most crash or fad diets don’t actually change eating behaviour, whilst counting calories does help you to not only understand what you are eating but also ‘recalibrate’ your eating habits such that you consume fewer calories even after you have ‘finished’ your diet.

Now, counting calories is right up there with Mrs. PL plucking my nose hairs on the list of things I would rather not do. It’s boring and, frankly, a bit of a pain in the backside. That’s when the doctor pointed me to a great website http://www.livestrong.com created by Lance Armstrong, seven time winner of the Tour de France. Gotta tell you, love this site! You register for free and then begin counting calories by adding foods you’ve eaten as you consume them …with over 550,000 foods in the database, I’ve found it difficult to find any foods it doesn’t have and adding these to your ‘daily plate’ is as easy as a couple of clicks. Wait, it gets better! You tell the site how many pounds you want to lose in total and then how many you wish to lose per week and …presto! You now have the date when you will be at your target weight as well as how many calories you can consume per day to lose the desired weight. And there’s even an app for the iPod iTouch, iPhone, Blackberry etc. so that there’s no reason to not log your food …and so you can see how many calories you have left in the ‘bank’ as the day progresses. Fandabbydoozy! All being well, you’ll see a new lighter me on 09 September 2009.

What does this have to do with Storage and Software?

Gartner and IDC estimate that the average customer reaps just 40% total utilisation out of their storage infrastructure, and when calculating the Total Cost of Ownership [TCO] for storage we know that only 30% of the measurement is acquisition …the remaining 70% is comprised of OPEX [power, cooling, backup, physical management, etc.] However, in my experience many [if not most] of our customers are unaware of the low utilisation and TCO measurements. Why? I don’t want to oversimplify this, but I believe that sometimes vendors, and certainly our competition, would prefer to have qualitative conversations with customers regarding storage.

Customer: ‘I need more storage for my new datacentre project.’

Our Competition: ‘Of course! What are you using now?’

Customer: ‘Ermmm, an EMC thingy.’

Our Competition: ‘Fantastic! And how much budget do you have for the project?’

Customer: ‘About £1.2 m’

Our Competition: ‘Wow, are you in luck …we have the new EMC Vmax for exactly £1.2m!’

Or something along those lines. Never really talked to the customer about what type of performance was required, never enquired as to how many people manage storage now and whether the customer would like to reduce OPEX …nope, not a sausage. And this type of engagement is what leads to low storage utilisation and hefty OPEX within storage infrastructures. So what should we do and how can we differentiate ourselves as Computacenter?

On average we can recoup upwards of 30% of unused storage in a fat provisioned storage infrastructure by implementing thin provisioning, we know that the industry standard for data deduplication ratios is 40:1, and automated storage provisioning can reduce the number of administrators required to manage storage significantly. There are also other technologies that we can look to implement and deploy, such as storage virtualisation, but none of these technologies are ‘silver bullets’ and we shouldn’t market them that way. In fact, you might liken them to ‘crash diets’ which deal with unstructured data when what we really want to do is to reduce the amount of unstructured data we’re creating to ensure that we’re only storing data that is useful to the customer in question.

But counting calories is a pain, and so is counting data …in fact, most users are just not that interested in reducing their unstructured data as they feel it impedes on their productivity. In fairness, though, this is a qualitative argument and we need to be having quantitative discussions with our customers. How?

By baselining the customer storage infrastructure using our Storage Assessment and Strategy Service we can show customers exactly what their storage environment looks like today; how much data is there, what data is duplicate, when is the last time the data was accessed, who is creating the data in question, and so on. This baseline also shows us how the environment has developed historically and, once we understand how we got here, we can now make intelligent assumptions about what the environment is going to look like moving forward over the coming months and years. Most importantly, we can now have very productive and quantitative conversations about how we can implement technologies and strategies to reduce CAPEX and OPEX over time …and without being disruptive to the customer’s production business or leaving users feeling as if we are impeding on their productivity.

We can help our customers lose weight and, in a difficult economy, I’m certain that is a message which will find resonance.

Please contact me if you you feel a Storage Assessment and Strategy Service would be of benefit.

Have a great weekend.

-Matthew

Click here to contact me.

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One Response to “Archived Post – On a slimmer me.”

  1. Tnelson Says:

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

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