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Thin provisioning optimizes storage utilization and reduces costs

Galvin Chang, associate director, Infortrend Technology, Inc. | March 4, 2011
While provisioning all the capacity of an external disk to a given application, known as full provisioning, ensures the app has plenty of growth potential, it results in poor utilization rates, a costly problem that can be addressed with thin provisioning technology.

FRAMINGHAM 4 MARCH 2011 - While provisioning all the capacity of an external disk to a given application, known as full provisioning, ensures the app has plenty of growth potential, it results in poor utilization rates, a costly problem that can be addressed with thin provisioning technology.

Research shows that storage utilization rates achieved by most companies is 40% or lower. That means buyers are acquiring more capacity than they really need and the very existence of that extra capacity requires more space apond cooling.

RESOURCE: Thinking outside the storage box

Furthermore, the traditional method of provisioning leads to increased management workloads due to the fact that the extra but unused capacity still needs to be monitored and managed. If applications reach their capacity limits and IT managers have to re-provision capacity, complex management tasks can be involved. More management requires more human resources, further driving up costs associated with storage management.

Additionally, if an application is taken offline to reprovision capacity, it is then unable to serve business needs and can lead to revenue loss.

Thin provisioning provides a way to address these limitations. By automatically allocating system capacity to applications as needed, thin provisioning technology can help achieve up to 90% storage utilization, while at the same time significantly reducing power consumption.

Thin provisioning allows users to allocate a large amount of virtual capacity for an application, regardless of the physical capacity actually available. At initial setup, thin provisioning does not physically allocate capacity to the prescribed data volume, and the actual space is used only when data writes occur.

This on-demand method for capacity allocation not only optimizes storage utilization, but also greatly simplifies capacity planning and management. In order to help users easily monitor capacity utilization, storage systems automatically issue notifications when the total capacity utilization is reaching the threshold set by the user. If users wish to expand capacity, they can do so non-disruptively.

With traditional provisioning, it is difficult to move data across logical partitions in a storage architecture. If thin provisioning is applied, storage capacity from different logical partitions can be consolidated, enabling it to be dynamically allocated. From the opposite perspective, this means that the storage controller can move data dynamically across logical partitions based on how resources are designed to function.

Furthermore, thin provisioning opens the door for other advances in storage design, including automated storage tiering. Storage tiering involves grouping data into different categories and assigning these categories to different types of storage media in order to optimize storage utilization.

 

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