When I was in university I became extremely good friends with the librarians across campus. This was more out of necessity than anything else as the information I required for papers and course research were often hidden in the private university stacks or considered ‘privileged’ material which had to be used in the library as opposed to being checked out an returned again. Put simply, if I had any chance of meeting often aggressive timescales for my university coursework a strategically placed box of chocolates or cup of coffee was often a good way of ensuring I got access to the materials I needed. Looking back I now realise just how labour intensive a process this was not only for me but for those poor librarians!
Flash forward seventeen years and now my niece will come in to ask me what she should Google and Wikipedia to get similar data. Think about that for just a moment …people now use Google as a verb …when was the last time you saw a technology introduced just ten short years ago enter the lexicon as not only a noun, but also a verb? Don’t worry, I am not going to wax lyrical about Google but what I do think is that Google as a technology and a company is having a profound impact on our lives. Gone are the labour intensive librarian lookups as information is rapidly becoming accessible anytime anywhere.
What does this have to do with data storage and protection?
Whilst I am fascinated by the mathematic logarithms and high performance computing / data storage technologies required to optimise data searches, what also interests me are the very real operating expense reductions that technologies like Google can bring. By allowing students to ‘google’ their data or, more to the point, by giving them the ability to find and access data without librarian intermediaries, the university gets to reduce operating expenditures [OPEX] as well as the student reducing their OPEX as the research and retrieval processes become far shorter.
In saying that, someone recently highlighted to me that we need to ensure that we don’t fall prey to the buzzword bingo of our industry in bandying terms like ‘CAPEX/OPEX reduction’ about without ensuring we are articulating what is behind these terms. Fair point. What sets us apart from our competition is our ability to understand and articulate the difference between return on investment and cost benefit analysis …how quickly can I get a return on my investment and what money will I save long term after it has been installed are hugely important during this recession and, arguably at all times frankly …but also our ability to demonstrably show a customer HOW we would help them achieve capital expenditure avoidance and operating expense reduction. This is what the Sharpen Your Business initiative is all about within Computacenter, and here’s the kicker …we can show them WHERE we have done this for other customers. Link this all up and we’re miles ahead of our competition!
Backup consolidation and virtualisation is one such area. For the life of me I don’t know why data backup and restoration sometimes becomes a poor cousin with IT projects, but in my experience it represents one of the best ROI and CAPEX avoidance / OPEX reduction scenarios going. Some vendors such as EMC, IBM, Fujitsu, HP, and Symantec are introducing backup products or upgrade to their existing backup products which consolidate technologies such as data deduplication and data archiving directly into the backup product to reduce backup data sizes and the amount of active data being stored …and hey, why not? If the data hasn’t been accessed in 6 weeks or more …or is duplicated several times over …why would I want to back it all up and store it?! Another interesting angle is CommVault who have introduced a Google-like front end to their product which allow business users to search for a file or files they have lost and …here’s the clever bit …restore it themselves with no interaction from a backup admin. Brilliant! Now that is demonstrable OPEX reduction and not buzzword bingo!
My guess is that in these uncertain economic times customers are already looking for solutions which help them reduce their costs so that they can not only survive but thrive. Bill McGloin and the Data consultancy team have done a great job to design and deliver backup consolidation projects, so if you might be interested in understanding how a consolidated and virtualised backup environment could help you reduce costs [and frankly I’d be surprised if you didn’t!] please contact me as I’m only too happy to help.
Have a great day and keep on Googlin’.